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Hundreds more nursing jobs in Scotland

Tagged In:  Nursing

A new report shows that NHS Health Boards in Scotland are intending to increase their nursing and midwifery workforces by 594 posts in 2017-18.

According to the Scottish Government's recently published NHS Board Projected staff in Post changes for 2017/18, 11 of Scotland's 14 regional Health Boards project an increase in nursing and midwifery staff numbers. Only one (Shetland) is predicting a decrease, in part due to a ward closure, while the remaining two boards (Ayrshire & Arran and Highland) anticipate no change in workforce size. 

In total, the number of nursing and midwifery posts in Health Boards will increase by one per cent, from 59,650 to 60,244. Across all staffing groups, including nurses, doctors and allied health professionals, it's predicted that the total will rise by 1,414 posts to 140,426, also a one per cent increase.

In June this year, the Scottish Government published a National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan, which projected that 2,600 more nurses and midwives will be needed in the workforce by 2021-22. The report estimated that additional training places would be created to meet this demand over the next four years. In addition, it announced the introduction of a package of measures to extend and increase funding for Return to Practice programmes, as well as improving recruitment and retention rates, particularly in rural areas. This will hopefully result in an additional 1,300 nurses and midwives working in Scotland.

"Increasing staff numbers is important, " said Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robinson, "But we are also focused on making sure we develop and retain the flexible workforce we need."

Earlier this year, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warned about the rising level of nursing vacancies in Scotland. The March quarterly workforce survey from ISD Scotland, published in June, showed a 27.5% year-on-year increase in nursing and midwifery vacancies, with 670 of the 2,818 posts being unfilled for three months or more. The total number of vacancies was the highest ever reported by ISD, although this is partly due to improved analysis.

Responding to the figures, the Health Secretary explained that part of the increase in vacancies was due to the creation of new posts. (The 2016-17 Projected Staff in Post Changes report estimated an increase in nursing and midwifery staff of 440 posts.) "Under this government, NHS staff numbers have risen to historically high levels, with more doctors and nursing staff now delivering care for the people of Scotland," Ms Robinson commented in an interview with the BBC. "We're committed to training and retaining our nursing staff, and earlier this year we confirmed a 4/7% increase in trainee nurses and midwives for 2017-18 – a fifth successive rise."

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