Concern as NHS Fife struggles to fill key consultant posts

Willie Rennie MSP (PIc: Jane Barlow)
Willie Rennie MSP (PIc: Jane Barlow)

Nearly one in five consultants jobs in NHS Fife are lying vacant.

Psychiatry and radiology are the two departments most affected by the shortfall – and politicians have spoken of their concerns over the impact on patients.

Fife Liberal Democrats described the figures as “very worrying.”

The latest figures show that 16 per cent of consultant positions at NHS Fife are being advertised – 43 posts from a total of 267.

Councillor Tim Brett, Lib Dem leader at Fife Council, and also a member of the Integrated Joint Board for Health and Social Care in Fife said: “These figures from NHS Fife are very worrying.

“Some of these posts have been left empty for some time, particularly in psychiatry and radiology where there are significant recruitment gaps.

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“To be missing 43 consultants out of a total staff of 267 is a considerable number of vacancies at NHS Fife.”
He acknowledged the board of NHS Fife had made every effort to recruit staff and make alternative arrangements, but expressed concern at the costs of locum cover and overtime, adding: “There must be consequences for the quality of care that patients receive if there is not continuity of care because of a rotation of part-time cover.”

Fife is being particularly badly hit because it is doesn’t have a teaching hospital – an issue raised by Willie Rennie MSP for north-east Fife.

He said: ““NHS Fife isn’t alone in struggling to recruit staff, but we are concerned that such a large percentage of these senior posts are empty.

“Lothian and Tayside are teaching boards and seem to not face the same challenges as we do in Fife.

“The Scottish Government has failed to properly plan for future medical staffing needs which is why there are significant problems across many health boards.

“That’s why we’ve repeatedly called on the Health Secretary to explain to Parliament every year how they are addressing workforce planning.

“I’m concerned that these empty jobs are staying unfilled for long periods because of the potential for longer waiting times for patients and the extra strain on existing staff, who are already up against it with increasing demands.”