BMA Scotland reaction on NHS workforce statistics

by BMA Scotland

Response from Dr Alan Robertson, Chair of the BMA’s Scottish Consultant Committee.

Location: Scotland
Published: Tuesday 5 December 2023
BMA in the news Illustration

Responding to today’s NHS workforce statistics, Dr Alan Robertson, Chair of the BMA’s Scottish Consultant Committee, said:

“These figures yet again show stubbornly high consultant vacancies and demonstrate beyond doubt that the Scottish Government must act urgently to properly address the senior doctor recruitment and retention crisis this country faces."

“We have been repeatedly calling for them to take concerted and decisive action to focus on retaining doctors by fixing their pay, work-life balance and working conditions for many years with no progress being made. The fact that there are 439 consultant vacancies - up 11.7% on this time last year - shows the impact of the Government’s failure to respond or take our warnings seriously. Importantly the number of posts vacant 6 months or more has remained virtually unchanged for 2 years and stands at 210 vacancies. However, we know these figures fail to record the true extent of gaps in the workforce – our research has consistently shown that when factors such as posts that are no longer being advertised are included, the actual number of gaps in the workforce is around double what the official figures say."

“This is impacting on doctors, who are even more demoralised by claims from the Government around record, or historically high workforce numbers which simply don’t reflect the reality on the ground, or the number of doctors we need to meet demand. Ultimately, it is seriously impacting the quality and timeliness of care for patients especially as we are heading into what is likely to be a brutal winter period. Absolutely none of this will be fixed sustainably without prioritising the need to address doctor vacancies, which means finally properly valuing doctors at all stages of their careers. That needs to be central to a serious, long term workforce plan which finally sets out how we will meet the demands placed on us as doctors and our NHS well into the future. The time to act is now, and I will be raising this with the Cabinet Secretary when we meet later this week.”