Scotland

Royal College of Nursing Scotland in nurse staffing levels call

NHS staff Image copyright Getty Images

The public are being urged to back a campaign for tougher legislation to ensure there are enough nurses to deliver high-quality patient care.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland said the latest NHS workforce data showed the highest number of nursing vacancies ever reported.

It said its members were at "breaking point" and it was "time for change".

The Scottish government said the number of nurses and midwives had increased by 5.7% since 2007.

The NHS workforce figures were published by ISD on Tuesday and showed the nursing and midwifery vacancy rate was now at 5.3% - that is 3,311.2 whole time equivalent (WTE) unfilled posts.

The RCN said it has left nurses working in hospitals, clinics and care homes "stretched to the limit".

The nursing body has previously called for legislation in each part of the UK to address staffing for safe and effective care.

In May, the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

Image copyright Science Photo Library

The "Ask for more" campaign is being run by the RCN throughout the autumn as MSPs undertake their initial work on the bill.

Theresa Fyffe, RCN Scotland director, said: "The figures show the magnitude of the staffing shortage in nursing teams across Scotland's NHS.

"But it's not just our NHS hospital and community teams which are stretched to breaking point, those working in care homes, are under the same pressure.

"The bill before the Scottish Parliament is an opportunity to secure change. If we get this legislation right it will help to ensure that nursing teams have the right staff to provide safe, effective and high quality care.

"That's why we're asking members of the public to make their voices heard loud and clear so that their expectations of care are met in reality."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "Since 2007 the number of whole time equivalent (WTE) qualified nurses and midwives has increased by 5.7%.

"We have increased the 2018/19 student nursing intakes by 10.8% - an extra 364 places. This is the sixth successive rise and equates to 3,724 entry places. We've also kept the nursing and midwifery bursary and free tuition, both of which have been scrapped for England by the UK Government."

She also highlighted the agreed pay rise of at least 9% for nurses, midwives and paramedics over the next three years and added that the Scottish government was "determined to go further" and would continue to work with partners, including the RCN.

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