The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robison, should have used a visit to Dumfries and Galloway yesterday (Monday 19 February) to apologise for a decade of failure in workforce planning in the NHS by the SNP Government, says South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

Past cuts in training posts by the SNP Government have meant NHS Dumfries and Galloway face a recruitment crisis with dozens of unfilled positions 

Last week Colin Smyth revealed that registration at four GP practises in Dumfires and Galloway were closed to new patients– St Michaels in Dumfries, Church Place in Moffat, Lochree in Stranraer and Charlotte Street Medical in Dumfries- due to a lack of GPs and according to NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s recruitment website there are currently GP vacancies at Lockerbie Medical Practice; Newton Stewart; Charlotte Street Medical Practice, in Dumfries; Castle Douglas Medical Group; Church Place Surgery Moffat; Greencroft Medical Centre; in Annan; Loch Ree in Stranraer; Thornhill; Canonbie and Lochnaw Medical Practice in Stranraer.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway also have 24 vacant consultancy posts as well as unfilled nurse and midwifery vacancies, resulting in the health board having to spend over £10m a year on expensive temporary agency staff to plug gaps.  

Colin Smyth said, “Our NHS staff do a fantastic job in increasingly difficult circumstances but the simple truth is there just aren’t enough of them. Shona Robison should have used her visit to Dumfries and Galloway to apologise for a decade of failure in workforce planning in the NHS by the SNP Government. Cuts in training places in the past by her Government has left our health and social care services in Dumfries and Galloway facing a recruitment crisis with vacancies in almost every medical position from consultants to GPs and nurses. As a result of these chronic staff shortages, NHS Dumfries and Galloway are having to spend over £10m a year on expensive agency staff to fill their gaps.  This is something they can ill afford at a time Government funding cuts mean the local NHS will have to make £20m of savings over the next year alone just to balance the books and that is bad news for local patients and NHS staff”.

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