Around one in every 14 NHS consultant roles are going unfilled, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have said.
Freedom of information requests by the party to Scotland’s health boards found some consultant posts are being re-advertised several times without anyone being hired.
Responses from health boards show 381 out of 5,367 consultant roles are currently vacant – around 7%, the party said.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Lib Dem candidate for Edinburgh Western, said his party’s plan for NHS recovery includes an annual workforce report which would be presented to Parliament for debate.
He said: “These figures show the stresses and strains that our NHS is operating under.
“This will be worrying for patients and mean extra work for existing staff.
“Staff are working around the clock but they aren’t getting anywhere close to the support and resources they need. The workforce is being stretched more thinly than ever, while dealing with more and more challenging workloads.
“If there is a nationalist majority, nothing will change. When Nicola Sturgeon was health secretary, she cut hundreds of nursing and midwifery posts, saying it was ‘the sensible way forward’.
“The Scottish Government’s integrated workforce plan was a year late.
“Scotland desperately needs a comprehensive recovery plan which includes proposals for training and recruiting the staff that every health board is crying out for.”