Statistics obtained by Scottish Labour from a Freedom of Information request have shown that the bill for locum nurses across Scotland has almost doubled in only a year from around £47m to over £92m between 2020-21 to 2021-22.
Across the south of Scotland, the figures show that health boards are being forced to rely on locum nurses to cover shifts, often at large cost, while nursing and midwifery vacancies continue to increase.
Colin Smyth said: “These figures show what we all know: that our fantastic and hard working NHS is facing a terrible recruitment crisis.
“Our health boards clearly have no other option other than to rely on locum nurses but it is not a long term solution. The NHS cannot continue to operate like this.
“This recruitment crisis has happened because of 15 years of SNP Government mismanagement and a complete failure to train enough frontline NHS staff.
“Anyone looking at these locum figures can see that this is an unsustainable way to manage NHS staffing.
“By failing to train then recruit permanent staff through attractive pay and conditions, the SNP Government has forced our NHS to become an addict to short term staffing fixes.
“This is an expensive sticking plaster that highlights the endemic lack of long-term strategy from the Health Minister.”