The Scottish Trades Union Congress gave overwhelming backing to an urgent HCSA call for a taskforce to tackle the growing Hospital Consultant crisis gripping parts of the country.
Hundreds of delegates in the peaceful town of Aviemore heard HCSA delegate Dr Bernhard Heidemann detail the widening gap between consultant need and actual numbers over the past seven years.
Dr Heidemann warned: "In 2010 we were concerned that Scotland faced a Consultant shortfall of 139, with half of those vacancies unfilled for more than six months."
Yet "2017 saw this shortfall almost treble to 430 with nearly two-thirds having been vacant for more than six months.
"HCSA believes strongly in the value of a consultant-led health service, but while consultant numbers have increased, it is simply not by enough.
"Against a backdrop of rising patient demand we are seeing an ever-growing disconnect between staffing need and staffing reality.
"For patients this means longer waits for diagnosis and treatment and the ever increasing pressure on overstretched teams is a threat to the quality and safety of care."
HCSA's motion commits the STUC to press the Scottish Government to identify and address the issues behind staffing shortages through the establishment of a dedicated taskforce involving doctors’ unions to:
- Identify the causes behind the current difficulties in attracting and retaining sufficient numbers of senior doctors.
- Assess future challenges posed by the demographics of the current workforce.
- Establish and assist in implementing an action plan to ensure that vacancies are funded and filled.