The latest statistics published today paint a worrying picture for the months ahead according to the Royal College of Nursing Scotland.
Data from Public Health Scotland shows that the number of beds occupied by people who no longer require acute hospital care are at the highest level since 2016 with almost 1,900 people waiting to be discharged from hospital.
This lack of available beds in acute hospitals is having a significant impact on emergency departments and A&E performance continues to deteriorate. Less than 68% of people were assessed, treated, admitted or discharged within the four-hour target and over 6,800 people spent more than 12 hours in an A&E department in October.
The latest NHS Scotland workforce statistics published today demonstrate that the nursing workforce crisis is at the heart of the problems facing Scotland’s health and social care services this winter.
Despite final year nursing students joining the workforce over the summer, the number of nursing and midwifery vacancies has increased and over 6,300 posts were empty at the end of September – a vacancy rate of 9% across Scotland. To put this into context that is 400 more posts than the total number of nursing and midwifery posts in NHS Grampian (5,892).
District nursing services play a key role in supporting people to return home from hospital and in preventing hospital admissions in the first place but the vacancy rate for district nursing reached 16% at the end of September.
Figures published by the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Social Services Council in November showed that 60% of care services that employ nurses reported vacancies. The rate of WTE nursing vacancies for these services was 16.2%.
Colin Poolman, Director, RCN Scotland said:
“Scotland’s nursing workforce crisis is at the heart of the challenges facing our health and social care services. We simply don’t have the nursing workforce we need, and it is patients and families who are suffering.
“Many of the hospital capacity problems are a result of a lack of health and social care resources within our communities. For example, district nursing teams are key to providing care for people at home, preventing admission to hospital and supporting those who are in hospital to return home safely and quickly.
“Our previous warnings have not been listened to. We must do more to value and retain our existing experienced nursing workforce and to attract the workforce of the future – fair pay is a fundamental part of this.
“Scotland needs an open and honest discussion about the level of investment required to meet growing demand, develop new ways of working and ensure we have the workforce we need to deliver safe and effective care across our hospitals and communities.”