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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-20416: Monica Lennon (Central Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 6 December 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to BMA Scotland's comment that ISD statistics underestimate the consultant vacancy rate by excluding posts that have yet to be cleared to be advertised and do not take account of the reliance on locum doctors and “that by not including certain categories of vacancy, the official statistics simply don’t provide the full picture of the scale of consultant vacancies in our NHS”.

Answered by: Jeane Freeman 18 December 2018

The number of consultants in post in NHS Scotland has increased by 50.8% under this Government, from 3,636.6 WTE in Sep 2006 to 5,484.8 in September 2018.

Vacancy statistics are a key part of quarterly official workforce statistics published by ISD Scotland and follow agreed measures of the size and composition of the NHS Scotland workforce.

Clear, agreed definitions are necessary to allow consistent comparison over time, and between individual NHS Boards. Every effort is made to ensure that in responding to ISD Scotland, Boards comply with data collection guidelines carefully, accurately and consistently.

We expect NHS Boards to always prioritise the recruitment of permanent staff to vacant posts. While this is taking place, the use of temporary staff allows essential services to patients to continue.