Nicola Sturgeon has blamed the UK’s exit from the European Union as the driving force for staff shortages in the NHS.
Scotland’s health service was battered throughout the course of the covid pandemic and is slowly recovering following more than a year of emergency measures.
It comes as the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland demands action after the latest stats revealed that the number of vacant nursing and midwifery posts had risen from 4,494 at the end of March to 4,845 at the end of June – a record high.
While consultants posts were also up to 541 from 513.
Sturgeon accepted there were challenges in the system, however some of them were down to Brexit.
She said: “We are seeing across our economy right now, but also in our public services, increasing staffing shortages because of Brexit.”
GMS presenter Martin Geissler interrupted: “Hang on, you can’t blame all of this on Brexit. We spoke to a doctor this week who told us what we’re seeing covid highlighting fractures and failings, and the health service has been failing for a decade he said.
“He said if you really wanted to fix it work should have started 10 years ago and it’s now gonna take more than 10 years to get this right.
“This isn’t just covid’s problem the NHS has been under incredible strain for a lot longer than that.”
Sturgeon replied: “I wasn’t blaming Brexit, you put to me, the issue of staff shortages, and I was saying that one of the many factors putting pressure on our NHS right now is staff shortages.
“I’m afraid Brexit is the driving reason for that.”
Geisler then jumped in to say: “Are you saying Brexit, the main reason we can’t get people to work in care homes or there are 220 consultants positions that have been unfilled in Scotland for six months.”
Sturgeon answered: “One of the reasons why and possibly particularly in care homes is not the only reason that we are starting to see difficulties in recruiting people is the overall constraint on labour supply, which I’m afraid it does go back to Brexit.”
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