NHS short of 4,000 nurses

Nurses say there aren’t “enough of them to do their job properly”

Tuesday 3rd September 2019

Nurse and midwife vacancies in Scotland’s health service are at their highest-ever level, according to NHS statistics released today.

In the three months to June 2019, more than 4,000 positions – around 6% – across both professions were vacant because of problems recruiting staff – a 28% increase from the previous year.

Adult nursing services face the largest staffing shortfall, followed by mental health services, which are short of hundreds of nurses.

Vacancies among consultants are also at the highest level for more than a decade.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: “Today’s figures reflect the pressures faced by Scotland’s NHS. Across both acute and community settings, there are simply too few nursing staff.

“Only last week Audit Scotland highlighted the Scottish Government’s failure to model future demand and address workforce pressures.

“The number of nurses and healthcare support workers in both our NHS and care home sector is simply not keeping pace with the number of people they are expected to care for. Our members repeatedly tell us that there isn’t enough of them to do their job properly.

“The Scottish Government must not lose sight of this workforce challenge. Scotland needs more nursing staff, we need more people to want to become nurses, and we need to have policies and working conditions that support nursing staff to stay in the profession.” 

A report last week by public spending watchdog Audit Scotland warned the government was unlikely to meet its commitment to boost primary care recruitment.

However the RCN said the assessment overlooked the role of nurses in primary care teams.

An advisor to the college, which represents 40,000 members in Scotland, told healthandcare.scot nursing – particularly district nursing – was not being “properly prioritised”.