Evening Telegraph

Shortage of nurses at NHS Tayside ‘putting patient care at risk’

A nurses union rep has claimed a soaring number of vacancies at NHS Tayside is putting patient care at risk.

Martin MacGregor

Martin MacGregor, from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said staff had expressed their concerns about increasing workloads in the health service.

Recent figures published by NHS Scotland show that the workforce, covering both medical and non-medical staff, fell by 2.6% in the year to June.

Mr MacGregor said: “I believe that everyone deserves safe, high quality health and social care services.

“However, Scotland does not have the nursing staff needed to provide care for everyone in a safe way.

“Across the Tayside area, I see and hear concerns from members on a daily basis about the pressures that nursing teams are under and the impact that staff shortages can have.

“NHS Scotland recently published statistics that show that in NHS Tayside, 5.1% nursing and midwifery posts are vacant.”

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Health services in Dundee and across Tayside are now the equivalent of more than 300 full-time staff worse off than before.

Mr MacGregor, who has been a nurse for 30 years, added: “I receive comments and concerns all the time regarding the additional pressure that our members are under. It’s not even specific departments that are suffering – it is endemic. NHS Tayside has particularly high vacancies compared with other health boards.

“Over the coming months, the Scottish Parliament will be considering the Health and Care (Staffing) Scotland Bill.

“This Bill is an opportunity to secure change and enshrine safe staffing within the law.

“The right legislation can help to ensure the right staff, in the right place, at the right time. That is what our patients deserve and should have the right to expect.”

Annie Ingram, NHS Tayside’s director of workforce, said: “With approximately 13,500 members of staff, some fluctuations in our staff numbers are what we would expect to see.

“Our staff turnover rate reflects a range of factors, including a higher workforce age profile among those staff working in some of NHS Tayside’s services.”