This week I have written to the Health Secretary Alex Neil MSP following reports that NHS Fife is on the brink of a staffing shortage. According to the Courier NHS Fife is suffering from a shortage of 40 consultants and finding the hiring of locum staff difficult.
This has contributed to NHS Fife failing to meet its six-week waiting time target with breaches now at their highest ever level and double what they were at the same time last year. At the end of April it was recorded that 1,540 patients out of the 5,765 who were waiting for a diagnostic test have waited for longer than the six week period.
The increase in breaches and the staff shortage highlights deeper problems within the NHS in Fife. It is becoming increasingly clear that due to Government underfunding staff in NHS Fife are being continually stretched beyond their means.
According to an Audit Scotland report, NHS financial performance 2012/13, NHS Fife has been underfunded by £12 million. This is not sustainable in the long run and action must be taken. That is why I have written to the Health Secretary to ask when NHS Fife gets the funding it deserves.
Whilst it is inevitable that staff will leave and move department, as in the case in any organisation, it is vital that within our health service they are replaced as quickly as possible. Locum staff have a role to play but they cannot become a crutch to prop up our NHS.
We need proper investment from the Scottish Government to support staff within our hospitals and ensure that any vacancies are quickly filled before our waiting lists spiral out of control.
You can find the Courier story by clicking here.