Delays in securing Visas for vital new staff have been blamed for some of the recruitment problems at Dr Gray’s hospital in Elgin.
NHS Grampian has been casting its net wide in a bid to fill long empty posts and hard-to-fill specialist positions,
While it has enjoyed some success in those efforts, Richard Lochhead MSP believes difficulty in securing Visa clearance has prevented them from taking up posts.
Mr Lochhead said he feared the delays could lead candidates to take work elsewhere instead.
The Moray MSP described the situation as “shambolic” and said he had asked Scotland’s Health Minister, Shona Robison, to investigate.
NHS Grampian this year launched a global campaign to encourage radiologists and other chronically-needed staff from abroad to fill vacancies.
The recruitment drive targeted medical professionals in Indian, the US, Canada, western Europe and Australia.
Mr Lochhead said: “It is good news that our local hospital has managed to attract a fair number of applicants to fill these vital posts but it’s very bad news indeed that the process for obtaining visas is so problematic.
“If applications are not dealt with in a timely manner or prioritised for health professionals, then the applicants will just go to work in other countries where visas are easier to obtain and that is to the severe detriment of Moray’s patients.”
One doctor, from Libya, is said to have been told her application would be processed by the Home Office within 15 days in March but is still waiting for her visa to be validated.
Dr Shelagh Parkinson of Dr Gray’s Hospital said the applicant was “perfect for the job”.
She said: ”We’ve had to hire a locum staff member until she is legally allowed to start at the hospital, which is proving to be around four times more expensive than it should be.
“We are having trouble hiring doctors in the region, so this is very frustrating.”
Mr Lochhead claimed the Libyan applicant had been told the visa application process had been “started from scratch due to technical difficulties” and that she had received “no assurance” the extra cost would be reimbursed.
Dr Parkinson said a further nine interviews were to take place on Friday for vacant posts at Dr Gray’s, with four of the applicants requiring visas from the UK Home Office were they to be hired.
The Home Office said it was “impossible” for applications to be started from scratch, while assuring residents of the importance of visa regulation.
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said: “We have taken steps to boost training places for nurses and doctors and a record number of undergraduates will begin medical training by 2020, with 1,500 new places.
“We will continue building and managing an immigration system that meets the economic and social needs of the UK and I will set out further plans in due course.
“I am committed to a fair and humane system and we are reviewing the operational assurance regime across the borders, immigration and citizenship system to ensure that it is effective and reflects best practice.”
NHS Grampian said it was unable to comment on a “Home Office matter”.