I strongly believe that the NHS must be properly staffed. Doctors, nurses, and other NHS staff provide our country with an invaluable service, and they should not have to deal with the burden of under-staffing.
The UK Government has made very clear that it values the contribution EU citizens make in the UK, and very much wants them to stay here. In December, the UK Government agreed with the EU that EU citizens living here, as well as British citizens living in the EU, will be able to stay and have their rights respected after Brexit. EU citizens working in the NHS, therefore, will be able to continue playing their vital role in the NHS and the wider community.
Unfortunately, here in Scotland, where the Scottish Government is responsible for healthcare, the NHS has a wider staffing shortage. Consultant and nursing vacancy rates are at record highs, one in four GP surgeries has a vacancy, and in the last four years NHS workers have reported concerns about staffing shortages over 16,000 times. This has, in turn, led to spiralling spending on overtime and locum staff – spending on agency staff has risen by more than six times in the last five years.
I believe that it is time the Scottish Government started managing the NHS properly and addressed this disgraceful staffing shortage. The SNP have made Scotland the most heavily taxed part of the United Kingdom, but health spending is still growing slower here than in England. I hope the Scottish Government will soon get their priorities straight and ensure that the NHS in Scotland is properly staffed.