Nicola Sturgeon is facing growing pressure after it was revealed that ambulance workers in Scotland have worked more than three million hours of paid overtime in the last five years, figures have revealed.
Freedom of information figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have showed that more than a quarter of a million hours were carried out in the first five months of 2022.
A total of 3,342,486 hours of paid overtime have been undertaken, with Scottish Ambulance Service staff working an average of 612,000 additional hours a year.
The figures also showed that the total yearly overtime costs have increased by 50% since 2017 – from around £11.8 million to £17.5 million last year. Jane Barlow
The figures come as ambulance staff from the GMB Scotland union have announced a 26-hour strike, starting at 6am on November 28.
And Unite members have announced they will no longer work overtime amid the flat rate offer of £2,205 per person, backdated to April.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has previously said the industrial action was disappointing but insisted the Scottish Government had no more money to increase the offer.
The figures also showed that the total yearly overtime costs have increased by 50% since 2017 – from around £11.8 million to £17.5 million last year.
And the total overtime costs since 2017 has surpassed £75 million, the figures show.
Dr Sandesh Gulhane, health spokesman for the Scottish Tories, said the figures were “deeply concerning”.
He said: “Not only do they underline the huge impact overtime bans will have on our vital emergency services, but they also show how reliant we have become on the goodwill of exhausted frontline staff.
“Ambulance staff are used to unimaginable pressure, but years of SNP failures on workforce planning have left them understaffed, overworked, and ultimately brought them to breaking point.
“It’s no wonder paramedics and ambulance workers feel they have no choice but to take industrial action.
“The SNP are already presiding over a crisis in our A&E departments – strikes and overtime bans in our ambulance service could be utterly devastating this winter.
“It’s clear that frontline NHS staff – like the rest of the country – have no faith in Humza Yousaf to give them the vital support and fair working conditions they deserve.
“Humza Yousaf has completely lost the trust of our heroic NHS workers.”
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf Andrew Milligan
The Glasgow MSP urged First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to “urgently intervene, sack her incompetent Health Secretary and work to end this damaging dispute”.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our recent funding boost to the Scottish Ambulance Service has seen record recruitment of 540 additional ambulance staff last year with further recruitment for this year already under way.
“The safety of patients is our top priority and while we will do everything possible to avoid strike action, we are working with boards to put detailed contingency plans in place.”