NICOLA Sturgeon had a reminder for members of the Conservative benches this afternoon after MSP Finlay Carson complained about staff shortages in Scotland’s health service.

Speaking in the Parliament after the First Minister’s weekly Covid update, Carson, MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, pointed out that 10.3% of nursing and midwifery posts at his local health board were vacant – a record high. He argues staff are at "breaking point" due to shortages.

“We’ve repeatedly called for an NHS winter plan to be published as soon as possible,” he told MSPs. “Can the First Minister confirm if there will be a plan published and if so, when?”

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In response, the First Minister said the NHS has been planning for the winter and will continue to do “every single day” – and added that there are record numbers of people working in the Scottish NHS.

“Yes, I will concede, it is difficult to recruit right now to health and care services,” she admitted.

“Just as it is difficult to recruit to haulage companies, just as it is difficult to recruit for agricultural businesses, picking fruit and vegetables for example.

“And the reason for that, which is why it is a bit galling to have this question posed by a Conservative member, is the damage done and now being felt by Brexit. So perhaps a bit of humility on these matters from the Conservative benches would go a long, long way.”

Brexit has been a major factor in why a number of industries including health, care, agriculture and hospitality have struggled to recruit their usual numbers of workers, with the end of freedom of movement making it harder for European citizens to come and work in the UK.

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Yesterday Olaf Scholz, who is set to take over as German chancellor following the country’s election, told reporters that the current HGV driver shortage leading to wider supply problems is a direct consequence of leaving the EU.

“We worked very hard to convince the British not to leave the union,” he said.

“Now they decided different and I hope they will manage the problems coming from that.”