The number of mental health staff at a north-east superprison is at its lowest level since the facility opened.
According to figures obtained through Freedom of Information legislation, only three nurses are currently working at HMP Grampian in Peterhead.
One band-six mental health nurse and two band-fives are currently employed by NHS Grampian to work in the prison, which boasts a capacity of around 550 inmates, including a Young Offenders Institute and a section for female prisoners.
The staffing level is at its lowest since the facility opened in 2014.
Four mental health staff were employed then for the prison, which serves as a replacement for HMP Peterhead and HMP Craiginches in Aberdeen.
There has consistently been one member of band-six staff at the prison, whereas the number of band-five staff has fluctuated, with four being the highest in 2015, and two being the lowest, recorded in late 2018.
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Despite the issues around staffing, the NHS said the waiting period does not exceed two weeks, with emergency cases seen immediately.
According to the figures, two staff vacancies are currently being advertised for band-five members of staff.
Mark Simpson, the Health and Social Care Partnership’s manager for North Aberdeenshire, said: “There is a recognised challenge regarding the recruitment of mental health nurses across the Grampian area.
“An action plan for recruitment has been developed, including the opportunity for new staff to shadow existing staff before beginning work at HMP & YOI Grampian.”
Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary said: “HMP Grampian is clearly short of provision, which will undoubtedly have a negative impact. A two-week wait can be a long time for this type of help.
“I hope we will see the jail return to full staffing levels at the earliest opportunity.”
The Scottish Prison Service has declined to comment.