SCOTTISH ministers have been accused of an NHS cover-up after more than 600 missing consultant vacancies were uncovered by the British Medical Association (BMA).

Official data reported 439 vacancies, a rate of 6.9 per cent.

But a freedom of information request by the union’s Scotland branch showed the actual rate was more than double, at 15.9 per cent, with 1,076 whole-time equivalent vacancies.

Dr Alan Robertson, chairman of BMA’s Scottish consultants committee, said the “missing” figures are enough to staff two large hospitals and come as “no surprise given the deepening medical workforce crisis we are clearly in.”

He added: “The Scottish government needs to be honest — not only with the public, but also with those of us working in the NHS.

“When they declare ‘more doctors than ever before,’ not only are they not accounting for the full scale of demand being put on services, they are not being honest about the senior doctors we are missing from the workforce or how many more are needed.

“We are constantly trying to plug gaps in rotas and make it through each shift, one day at a time.”

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