THREE complaints a week were made to NHS Fife over the last year by employees concerned about staffing levels.

A total of 168 workers raised issues about shortages in key areas while a further 13 filed formal bullying and harassment complaints.

Yesterday (Wednesday) NHS Fife told the Press that they currently had 37.75 acute consultant vacancies across the region.

Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request NHS Fife was shown to lack up to 100 nurses. Since these figures were released the board have approved the decision to recruit 100 additional nurses across seven sites.

Executive director of nursing, Professor Scott McLean, said, “I am delighted that NHS Fife has taken a positive, proactive decision that will help shape the provision of care in line with the changing needs of the people of Fife.

“The appointment of more registered nurses will not only increase our focus on providing safe, effective and person-centred care for our patients, it will also help ensure that we continue to provide a high-quality working environment for our excellent and committed nursing staff.

“One hundred additional nurses will be funded across the NHS Fife inpatient wards, helping to ensure that the health board operates above minimum staffing levels.” Speaking about the staffing levels released in the FOI, Alex Rowley, MSP for Cowdenbeath, said, “These latest figures issued by NHS Fife demonstrate the levels of pressure that staff are working under.

“I estimate they are between 70 to 100 nurses short of the levels needed and on top of this we know that today, there are over 37 consultant posts unfilled.

“Whilst NHS Fife are doing their best to address this, bringing in locums and private companies to fill the gap in consultant posts and bank nurses to support the nursing staff, this is expensive, does not deliver the best for people and therefore is not even a medium-term solution.

“On top of this, we have a major funding gap in social care which is leading to a worsening of bed-blocking and the boarding of patients.

“I am meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Health this week and will use these latest figures with all the other evidence I have to restate the case for an independent review of the capacity of NHS Fife to meet the health needs of the people of Fife.

“The fact is that health and social care in Fife is under-funded, under-staffed and under pressure. With winter coming this is not a good place to be and the Scottish Government must act to address the issues.” Rona King, director of human resources at NHS Fife, said, “NHS Fife continually reviews its workforce to ensure that staffing levels are safe and the skill mix is appropriate for all our departments.

“NHS Fife has a Dignity at Work policy developed in partnership which covers any allegations of bullying and harassment. Staff are encouraged to access this policy either through their line management or directly through human resources staff. Any form of bullying or harassment is totally unacceptable and any allegations will be investigated and staff fully supported.”