In Parliament I asked the Health Secretary Shona Robison how many unfilled consultant posts we had in NHS Fife and would have to say I was surprised that the number of unfilled posts has actually risen over the last year.
She stated that “Out of an establishment of 281.9 WTE consultant posts in NHS Fife, 52.6 WTE are currently vacant”.
We have had this recruitment problem in Fife for the last two years that I have been an MSP and I have continually pointed out the concerns and issues this creates for constituents.
We know that NHS Fife has worked hard to bridge the gap with the employment of locums, by employing a private company to fly up consultants at weekends to see patients in Fife and indeed have been flying in consultants from abroad to also try and address this issue.
All of this leads to a poorer service where these temporary measures cannot and do not achieve the same as an individual having a consultant that knows them, their case and is able to provide the best care and support, it is far more expensive and there is agreement amongst most medical people this is not the way to deliver a good quality health service.
NHS Fife (Consultant Posts)
- 17. Alex Rowley (Cowdenbeath) (Lab):
To ask the Scottish Government how many unfilled consultant posts there are in NHS Fife. (S4O-04444)
- The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport (Shona Robison):
Under this Government, the number of consultants in post in NHS Fife is at a record high, having increased by 64.2 whole-time equivalents, from 168.2 in September 2006 to 232.3 in March 2015. Out of an establishment of 281.9 WTE consultant posts in NHS Fife, 52.6 WTE are currently vacant.
The position in Fife reflects the fact that we have some of the highest staffing levels ever across our NHS, including record numbers of consultants. The increase in vacancies is linked to the efforts to increase capacity by recruiting even more staff. We acknowledge the efforts that are being made by all NHS boards, including NHS Fife, to fill any vacancies in whatever way they can.
- The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Let us have a brief supplementary and a brief answer, please.
- Alex Rowley:
I thank the cabinet secretary for that answer. I recognise that progress is being made and that hard work is going on. Nevertheless, the situation is still unacceptable. Given how difficult it is to recruit consultants in more rural areas, what proposals and plans is she considering for a long-term solution to the problem?
- Shona Robison:
I am glad that Alex Rowley welcomes the progress that has been made. I also welcome the tone of his question. He has hit upon an issue that we must consider in order to see how we can help our district general and rural general hospitals, which can find it difficult to recruit to certain specialties. Teaching hospitals have less of a problem with that. We have to consider imaginative solutions—for example, recruiting people to work across networks by spending some of their time in a teaching hospital and some of their time in district general or rural general hospitals. That has already happened, but on quite a small scale. We have to look at more innovative ways of addressing the problem. I am happy to keep Alex Rowley posted on progress.
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