14 January 2016
The recent Audit Scotland report
NHS in Scotland in 2015 revealed a service struggling to cope.
It confirmed that spending on the NHS on Scotland by the SNP Government has fallen in real terms by 0.7% in real terms between 2008/09 and the last full financial year, 2014/15.
It concluded that the SNP Government are not making sufficient progress towards its own 2020 “vision” which is “to enable everyone to live longer, healthier lives at home or in a homely setting by 2020”
One of the principal issues facing the NHS in Scotland is dealing effectively with rising demand, and concern is growing over staffing levels to address the demand.
Latest available data on the number of nursing and midwifery vacancies in North East Scotland (combining NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside; for September 2015 ) was just under 600.
Over 170 of these had been vacant for 3 months or more
Similarly, the number of vacancies in North East Scotland for consultants was just over 70, and 34 of these had been vacant for 6 months or more.
Nursing vacancies can be covered temporarily by expensive bank and agency expensive staff , but additional pressures are placed on existing staff to cover for the vacancies.
The consequence for an already hard-working staff facing excessive workloads is even more stress, the danger of burnout, and exhibiting “presenteeism” –attending work while unwell so as not to let work colleagues down.
As an example of the strain, the NHS in Scotland saw the number of stress-related sick days among nurses increase by a third rise, by 34% from over 116,000 in 2012 to 156,000 in 2013.
Earlier this year, bodies representing medical professionals warned that Scotland could find itself short of 900 GPs by 2020 unless government policy changed course and that 2016 poses significant added pressure for the NHS in Scotland through rising demand and staff vacancies.