NHS staff have played a vital and enduring role during the Covid pandemic, and I like all of my MSP colleagues in Holyrood, would like to reiterate my thanks for their efforts and continued resilience as we begin rebuilding from the pandemic.
I share your concerns that the SNP Government are failing to adequately support NHS staff in Scotland. Indeed, many of the issues we see today are the result of failed workforce planning. Even now, after 15 years of SNP government, there is little hope that they are taking seriously the urgent need to improve matters. Their recent workforce plan was insufficient and lacked ambition, while vacancy rates are at record levels for nurses and a four year high across many other NHS professions.
In terms of junior doctors specifically, we believe that immediate action to support staff retention is required. That is why we would invest in staff wellbeing, including ensuring hot meals were accessible, rest facilities and mental health service, and fully establish a Scottish Workforce Specialist service to provide ongoing mental health support to NHS and social care staff. More flexibility is also required during the early stages of doctors’ careers to improve retention.
More widely, we are calling on the SNP Government to urgently bring forward a timetable for implementing the safe staffing legislation passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament three years ago.