MSP challenges attempts to address NHS Tayside report

A patient receives medical care.
A patient receives medical care.

Holyrood’s response to issues highlighted in NHS Tayside’s latest Audit Scotland report has been challenged by an MSP.

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Liz Smith, has questioned the Scottish Government’s record on helping health boards reduce their reliance on agency and bank nursing staff following a statement from the Health Minister today.

The recently released Audit Scotland report revealed that spending on agency nursing and midwifery staff had increased by 47 per cent in Scotland since 2014/15, with the highest amount spent in NHS Tayside (£5 million).

NHS Tayside also had the fourth highest staff turnover rate in Scotland at 9.2% which was significantly higher than the Scottish average of 6.4 per cent. Although health bosses might argue that staff turnover can sometimes benefit services overly high turnover can impact consistency and costs if boards are required to frequently provide training for new staff.

Back in October a separate Audit Scotland report found that NHS Tayside was in financial difficulties facing a budget deficit of £11.6 million.

Liz Smith MSP said: “Whilst it was positive to see the Health Minister come to Parliament and concede that there are problems in our health service today’s statement does not go far enough to address the challenges NHS Tayside currently faces.

“The SNP have had since 2007 to sort out problems with agency staffing costs but have failed to do so and many will treat today’s promises of improvement with caution.

“NHS Tayside is beset by higher than average staff turnover rates and I was disappointed that the Minister did not address this in more detail. High staff turnover rates can result in inconsistencies and it is important that nurses and consultants have time to build a rapport with patients and fellow staff members.

“Patients and staff should expect the best from our health service but it would appear as though the Scottish Government is failing them and it will take more than these warm words to wipe the memory of the SNP’s record.”