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Nursing Workforce in Scotland report

03 May 2023
In the report, which contains a new analysis of nursing workforce statistics and challenges facing workforce planning, RCN Scotland highlights the key trends, implications of the trends and makes recommendations for action to tackle the workforce crisis.
In the report, RCN Scotland calls for a retention strategy that focuses on, amongst other things, career progression, flexible working and better support to enable more nursing students to complete their nursing course.  

The report analyses trends in the nursing workforce statistics in health and care and makes 10 recommendations. Along with a retention strategy, the recommendations include:  

Scottish government must ensure the Ministerial Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce and Agenda for Change Review deliver sustainable, positive change for nursing.  
Full implementation of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act by April 2024  
Action to increase the number of registered nurses in community, social care and primary care.  

The data trends are worrying and include:  

Planned nursing establishments have not been achieved in the past two years, in fact, increasing vacancies indicate that the gap between planned staffing and actual staffing is widening.  
The number of registered nurses leaving the NHS in Scotland increased to 4,238 in the year to March 2022, the highest number of registered nurse leavers in one year over the past 10 years.  
In care homes for older people 64% of services had nursing vacancies in December 2021 compared with 48% the previous year at a time when pressure on the system has never been higher.  
In 2022, 8% fewer applicants were accepted onto undergraduate nursing courses at Scottish universities compared to 2021. There were nearly 600 fewer nursing students starting university in autumn 2022 than the Scottish government’s recommended intake target of 4,536.  


Page last updated - 03/05/2023