Nursing gets its own year of celebration

 Theresa Fyffe 21 Jan 2020

The WHO Year of the Nurse and Midwife provides us with an opportunity to celebrate what is great about the profession as well as looking at the changes we need to see, says Theresa Fyffe.

The World Health Organisation has named 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, in honour of 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale. As both a celebratory year and the start of a new decade, 2020 provides us with an opportunity to celebrate what is great about the profession as well as looking at the changes we need to see.

Nursing professionals are there for people across Scotland 24 hours a day, working in a wide variety of roles to deliver high-quality clinical care. However they are working in a system that is under enormous pressure to meet rising demand. In the NHS there are almost 4,000 nursing and midwifery posts unfilled. In our recent survey of RCN Scotland members, respondents told us they are too busy to provide the level of care they would like and felt undervalued. Scotland needs more nursing staff and this year we will continue to highlight the impact of nursing shortages on patient care and staff wellbeing. 

In May, MSPs passed the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act which will place a duty on NHS and social care providers to make sure that, at all times, there are suitably qualified staff working in the right numbers to provide safe and effective care. The Act presents an opportunity to make a real difference but long-term planning to achieve a sustainable workforce will be crucial.

Last month we saw the publication of the government’s long-awaited integrated health and social care workforce plan. It’s welcome that the plan recognises the crucial role of district nursing and commits to a 12% increase in this workforce as well as a further increase in the number of student nurse places next year. However, Ministers must now set out the funding to deliver the commitments within the plan and ensure that providers have the funding and supply of staff to allow them to meet their duties under the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act.

This blog was first published in Holytood magazine on 13 January 2020.

Theresa Fyffe

Theresa Fyffe

RCN Scotland Director


Theresa Fyffe has been RCN Scotland Director since 2007 and is a former Deputy Chief Nurse for Scotland, experienced clinician and nurse manager.

Page last updated - 22/06/2020