It has emerged that 3,389 NHS staff in Scotland are on long term sick leave, prompting Labour to ask the Scottish government to launch an investigation into the levels of sickness absence.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon revealed the figures in a parliamentary letter to Cathy Jamieson, Labour’s shadow cabinet secretary for health and wellbeing.

Ms Jamieson said she was “deeply concerned” by the figures. She added: “The Scottish government should launch an immediate inquiry to investigate why this figure is so high.”

The figures include staff on paid and unpaid sick leave, and those who have suffered injuries or been the victims of crime.

There were 3,389 NHS staff on long term sick leave, with 975 from Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 415 in Lothian, 277 in Tayside, 275 in Grampian and 250 in Ayrshire and Arran.

Ms Jamieson added: “The NHS has a duty of care towards all of its employees and I am worried that repeated demands for efficiency savings and cuts by the SNP government have increased the workload and put unfair pressure on staff.”

Matt McLaughlin, regional organiser for NHS Glasgow and Clyde for the Unison union, said: “Unison is confident that there is a direct link between staff ill health and the NHS employers’ failure to tackle issues such as stress, bullying and violence at work, all of which are on the increase.”