Shock new figures show there has been a 268% increase in unfilled posts in NHS Highland since 2011, while there has been a 138% rise in NHS Grampian over the same period. The figures have prompted calls from Scottish Labour for greater investment in healthcare. Their health spokesman, Anas Sarwar, said: “These problems did not appear overnight, they happened on Nicola Sturgeon’s watch when she was Health Secretary.
“[Her successor] Shona Robison appears completely incapable of cleaning up her boss’s mess.
“The SNP government need to accept there is a problem if they are ever to fix this mess.”
According to the figures obtained by Scottish Labour, there were 444.1 nursing and midwifery vacancies in Grampian in 2016, up from 186.6 in 2011.
In Highland, the same figures show there were 33.4 vacancies in 2011, whereas this year, that has spiralled to 123.
NHS Grampian said it was working with Robert Gordon University to help tackle nursing vacancies. A spokeswoman added: “We have dealt with a number of midwifery vacancies, we recruited 20 new midwives in September and a further 10 in October. They are now gradually coming into post.”
A spokesman for NHS Highland disputed that the Scottish Labour figures provided a “like for like” comparison.
He added: “Today, we have 115 nursing and midwifery posts vacant and we are currently actively recruiting all of these posts.
“And since 2015, NHS Highland has seen a reduction in the number of vacancies – from 140 in 2015 to 123 in 2016.”
Shona Robison responded: “Under this Government, NHS staff numbers have risen to historically high levels, with more doctors and nurses now delivering care for the people of Scotland.
“The increase in the number of vacancies is due to the creation of new posts in health boards, mainly as a result of information from our mandatory nursing workforce planning tools which help health boards to plan their staffing.
“It’s worth noting that compared to 2011 there are now almost 2,500 additional nursing and midwifery staff working in our NHS, an increase of 4.4%.
“We are committed to training and retaining our nursing staff and last year