Scores of consultants set for retirement as vacancies rise

15 Sep 2015

Scotland’s NHS could face losing even more consultants after it emerged there are 65 across the country due to reach retirement age this year.

Vacancies among those key senior staff are already at record levels, with nearly 450 unfilled posts in hospitals.

And a parliamentary question by the Scottish Conservatives has revealed scores could also retire, leaving yet more gaps in consultancy levels.

Health secretary Shona Robison confirmed there were 65 consultants due to hit retirement age between now and March.

And within five years the number of those turning the age of 65 will reach 259.

That’s without considering those consultants who may decide to retire early.

It is the latest in a series of figures which suggest the SNP is failing to plan properly for future staffing levels in the NHS.

Earlier this month it emerged the number of consultancy vacancies had quadrupled, meaning 8.3 per cent of posts are unfilled.

Nursing vacancies are also at a new high, with 2256 vacancies currently, compared to just 579 in 2011.

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Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said:

“The vacancy situation among consultants in Scotland’s hospitals is bad enough without a mini retirement boom coming down the tracks.

“This places the SNP’s failure to properly plan for future staffing levels into even sharper focus.

“The Scottish Government will be crossing its fingers that many of these consultants turning 65 decide to stay on for a bit longer.

“But the reality could be worse, and many well under the age of 65 could be considering retirement plans of their own.

“Ministers must explain as a matter of urgency how they intend not only to reduce the number of vacancies, but also replace those for whom retirement is imminent.”

Notes to editors:
Below is the parliamentary question from Scottish Conservative MSP John Scott asking about consultant retirements:
14 September 2015
Index Heading: Health and Social Care
John Scott (Ayr) (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party): To ask the Scottish Government how many consultants are due to retire in the next five years in each NHS board.
Shona Robison:
Scotland currently has record high numbers of consultants. Under this Government, consultants across Scotland have increased by 38.2% to 5,024.3 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE).
We are working with NHS Boards to ensure safe, effective and high quality healthcare is delivered by the right professional at all times, and we are developing better intelligence through robust medical workforce supply and demand profiles which take into account the effects of consultant retirement and other factors.
In accordance with current legislation, we can no longer presume a retiral age as this is discriminatory. As a result, information relating to numbers of NHS consultants retiring in the next five years is not available. However, the number of consultants in post who will have reached the age of 65 within the next five years can be found in the table below.
Number (whole time equivalent) of consultants who will have reached the age of 65 by financial year.
Retirement year
It should be noted that not all staff that reach the average retirement age will retire as there is no legal requirement for them to do so.
Below are the latest consultancy vacancy rates from ISD Scotland:
2011 – 128 (2.8 per cent)
2012 – 139 (3 per cent)
2013 – 222 (4.7 per cent)
2014 – 347 (6.9 per cent)
2015 – 447 (8.3 per cent)
The Scottish Conservatives criticised the SNP’s record in filling NHS vacancies after it emerged there had been increases in nursing, consultancy and AHP gaps: