NORTH Ayrshire Labour’s Health and Social Care Spokesperson, Cllr Robert Foster, has backed his party’s plans for an independent commission into NHS staffing.

Cllr Foster claims the commission is needed because the SNP Government have failed on workforce planning in the health sector.

It was revealed recently that NHS Ayrshire and Arran are spending millions of pounds each year on private agency nurses because they cannot recruit enough nurses.

The health board also currently has a number of long term consultant vacancies that they have been unable to fill.

This is adding to the health boards financial challenge which includes a recurring £13.5m annual deficit despite them making £50million of cuts over the last two years.

There is also a GP crisis, as revealed in last week’s Irvine Times.

The situation in North Ayrshire has seen a lack of new GP’s, forcing many practices to operate without sufficient coverage leading to increased spending on £500 a day locums.

The Times revealed that NHS Ayrshire and Arran were being forced to replace retiring doctors with two junior doctors, as younger medics preferred a shorter working week.

Speaking on Labour’s commission, Cllr Foster said this week: “Our NHS has severe shortages in nurses, GP’s and consultants.

“This is the case here in Ayrshire where the health board is spending millions of pounds each year on expensive private agency staff due to recruitment problems.

“This is adding financial pressure onto a health board that has a recurring annual deficit of £13.5m despite them making huge cuts in recent years.

“Scottish Labour’s workforce commission is needed because the SNP Government have completely failed on workforce planning.

“Under the SNP our hardworking NHS staff are overworked, under resourced and underpaid.”

Councillor Foster insisted: “Our workforce commission will put all this right - bringing health experts together, independent of political influence, to develop the solutions needed.