RCN Scotland Calls For Budget To Prioritise Health And Care Services

The Scottish budget must prioritise health and care services and set out investment to grow and develop Scotland’s nursing workforce, according to the Royal College of Nursing Scotland.

Nursing workforce challenges across health and care services remain as acute as when the RCN called for urgent action in its second Nursing Workforce in Scotland Report published in May this year.

In an update published today (14 December) the RCN has reviewed progress on the 10 recommendations made in May’s report and concluded that despite some gains, progress has been ‘much slower than needed, given the scale and severity of the workforce crisis’.

The update shows that:

  • Nursing vacancy rates remain stubbornly high across the NHS and social care. The latest NHS statistics show that 5,400 (7.7%) nursing and midwifery posts remain unfilled. Meanwhile 65% of care homes for older people report nursing vacancies.
  • For the second year in a row the number of places to study nursing at Scotland’s universities have not been filled. This month, UCAS reported an 11% drop in acceptances onto nursing programmes in Scotland in the last year.

Commenting, Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland Director, said:

“We believe our recommendations are key to helping tackle the nursing workforce crisis. But, as we say in our reveiw of progress, the challenges remain stark. The NHS vacancy rate continues to run at an unsustainable level and social care is still facing major recruitment challenges. Two years of not hitting the target for new nursing students is a significant concern because of the impact on registered nurse numbers in the future.

“We won’t give up our efforts to press for meaningful improvements. Last month, the Agenda for Change review process reported on its recommendations for reform for the NHS-wide pay scheme. We are calling on the Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care to approve the funding required to implement the recommended outcomes quickly and in full.

“We’re also calling for the Ministerial Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce to recommend actions to directly address these workforce challenges. Any recommendations must be backed by the financial resources needed to deliver change and ensure nursing is positioned as a career of choice. Next week’s budget announcement is the Scottish government’s opportunity to show how much it values our hard-pressed nursing staff and the future of our health and care services.”