The report emphasised the fact that ‘plans are restricted by what is affordable and achievable with the staff available’ and that NHS workforce projections, as well as being consistently underestimated, have not been considered in line with policy initiatives such as safe staffing and the creation of elective centres.
Audit Scotland has also highlighted the confusion which exists around setting staffing levels now that NHS boards, Integration Authorities and regional planning groups all have some responsibility for workforce planning.
Commenting, Theresa Fyffe, Director, Royal College of Nursing Scotland (RCN) said: “The RCN has warned for some time that the Scottish Government has failed to future proof NHS Scotland’s workforce. Today’s report echoes that sentiment and impresses upon the Scottish Government, NHS boards and Integration Authorities the urgency with which workforce planning now needs to be addressed.
“Audit Scotland has hit the nail on the head – for too long plans have been restricted by what is affordable and achievable with the staff available - rather than focusing on strategic, long-term planning to meet demand. The result is that Scotland has too few nursing staff in post and too few nurses being trained.
“Staff across NHS Scotland are under enormous, unrelenting pressure to meet ever growing demand. The significant workforce challenges set out in the report must be addressed robustly, realistically and rapidly if patients are to get the care that they need.”