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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-01385: Gordon Lindhurst (Lothian)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 11 July 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the report from Information Services Division Scotland showing that, between December 2015 and March 2016, the number of vacant NHS consultant posts rose by 9.8%, and what action it is taking to reverse this trend.

Answered by: Shona Robison 4 August 2016

Under this Government we currently have the highest NHS staffing levels ever, with numbers of consultants increasing by a record 42.9% to over 5,000 Whole Time Equivalent.

While there is indeed a 9.8% difference between the two published statistics in December 2015 and March 2016, this comparison represents a percentage difference between two date ranges but does not reflect the overall rate at which consultant vacancies as a percentage of Establishment are recorded.

The most reliable data on consultant vacancies as a percentage of Establishment shows that consultant vacancy rates have decreased over the past year, dropping from 7.7% in March 2015 to 6.5% in March 2016.

It is normal to expect some fluctuation in vacancies throughout the year, and this is linked to our efforts to increase capacity by recruiting even more staff.

The Scottish Government is fully committed to a sustainable NHS and works closely with NHS Boards as they continue to proactively recruit to available posts.