Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson has hit out at the SNP Government after new figures revealed advertised consultant posts in the region have all been left vacant for six months or more.
The figures show that NHS Dumfries and Galloway currently has a consultant vacancy rate of 20.9%, the highest in mainland Scotland, with all posts left unfilled for six months or more.
This figure has risen sharply from 13.4% in December 2016, when Mr Carson challenged Health Secretary Shona Robison to do more to recruit consultants to the area.
Mr Carson believes the SNP Government have completely failed to ensure rural health services are prepared for the future, with local patients and frontline staff suffering as a result.
He also highlighted the need to urgently recruit new consultants with figures showing the health board have spent over £10m in the last year on using agency staff.
Commenting Finlay Carson MSP said: “These figures lay bare the consultant recruitment crisis NHS Dumfries and Galloway is currently facing.
“With all consultant vacancies lying unfilled for six months or longer, it is local patients who are suffering and our hard working NHS staff on the frontline who are having to carry the extra burden.
“The SNP Government have been in charge of our NHS for over a decade and that time has seen them completely fail to prepare for the future in terms of staffing rural health services.
“When I met with the Health Secretary in 2016 to ask the SNP Government to do more to recruit consultants to Dumfries and Galloway, she assured that action would be taken.
“This has clearly not been the case and vital resources for the health board are having to be used on spending millions on using agency staff in order to ensure patients are treated.
“For NHS Dumfries and Galloway to have the highest consultancy vacancies on the mainland is a damning record of failure for the SNP Government and I will be continuing to keep up the pressure on them.”