The Scottish Government has failed to plan for the long term after an Audit Scotland report revealed the urgent workforce challenges facing Scotland’s NHS.
The Audit Scotland report into workforce planning in the NHS revealed:
- “The Scottish Government and NHS boards have not planned their NHS workforce effectively for the long term.”
- “Processes for determining training numbers risk not training enough doctors, nurses and midwives, with the right skills for the future.”
- “The Scottish Government aims to have a workforce with the right mix of skills to deliver different types of healthcare for the future. The current systems for making recruitment decisions are not sufficiently coordinated to help make this happen.”
- There has been a 107 per cent increase in agency spending from 2011/12 to 2016/17 – from £82.8 million to £171.4 million.
- One in three NHS staff are now over the age of 50.
This report highlights the dangers of our NHS running on a skeleton crew and how little forward planning has been done to avoid it. It takes ten years to train a consultant but the Scottish Government appears to have little to no idea how many of these staff, or any other, it will need in the years ahead.
This damning audit rightly takes a dim view of Nicola Sturgeon and her health secretary’s attempts to avert this crisis. The Scottish Government ignored warning after warning that staffing isn’t keeping up with demand. It failed to look to the long term and cuts to training places have come back to bite. As a direct result staff are under serious pressure, there are more vacancies and the health service is paying through the nose for agency staff to provide cover.
The Scottish Government can’t rely on the goodwill and hard work of staff on the frontline to get by any longer. It is time to scrap the pay cap, give staff the resources and support they need to do their jobs, and thoroughly assess what the NHS needs to be fit for purpose in the long term.