Humza Yousaf has said he acknowledges the “extremely challenging circumstances” NHS staff are facing, following concerns about staffing levels at the flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.
It follows a report at the weekend which said workers had warned of under-staffing 339 times at the Glasgow hospital since 2019.
The Sunday Post newspaper said there had been 55 “near miss” incidents where there was a potential for patients to be harmed as a result of staff shortfalls.
Conservative MSP Sue Webber asked the health secretary about the reported staffing shortages in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.
Yousaf said staff numbers in Scotland’s NHS were at a record high, with the workforce growing by 20% under the SNP Government.
He said: “Nevertheless, I fully acknowledge the extremely challenging circumstances within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and, of course, across the NHS right across the country.
“A range of further interventions are now actively being taken forward and deployed within the service to support existing capacity.
“This includes provision of additional targets and flexibility, streamlining recruitment processes and bringing forward planned recruitment.”
He said the health board was currently bringing more than 600 new nurses on board.
Webber said understaffing had been a problem in the health service before the onset of the pandemic, telling the chamber that the report at the weekend had made for “grim reading”.
She said: “Will the Cabinet Secretary stop hiding behind Covid to mask the issues that were already present in the NHS and finally accept that it is the Government’s lack of action which has compounded the current NHS staffing crisis?”
Yousaf said staff numbers had increased across all medical professions in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
He said: “Ms Webber can try all the spin in the world, it doesn’t detract away from the facts that exist.
“Under our stewardship of the NHS, we don’t only have record staffing levels, we have the best-paid staff anywhere in the UK.
“So I will stand proudly on this Government’s record of funding and staffing the NHS, compared to her party’s record of cutting public services, not being remotely as generous as we have been to NHS staff and, of course, over a decade of austerity.”