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Ageing workforce pose serious problem for Scotland’s NHS

4 Jun 2019

ISD Scotland’s workforce statistics, published today, shows that nursing shortages continue to be a challenge across Scotland’s NHS.

At the end of March 2019 5% (3,143.7 WTE) of nursing and midwifery posts for qualified and support staff were vacant. This compares to 4.5% (2,814.3 WTE) for the previous year.

The statistics also shows that the median age of the national workforce is 46 and the proportion of staff aged 55 and over is 19.7%. Staffing problems are likely to be exacerbated due to the number of nurses approaching retirement.

RCN Scotland Director, Theresa Fyffe, said:

“The pressures on nurses and health care support workers are huge - demand for services is rocketing and the number of nursing staff in our NHS is just not keeping pace with the number of patients they’re expected to care for. Staff working in care homes are under the same pressure and are facing a recruitment crisis.

“Today’s statistics highlight yet again that Scotland needs a fully-funded workforce plan that takes account of the growing demand for services and new ways of working. 

“Along with the population more generally, the nursing workforce is getting older. This poses real problems for the future, with many more nurses coming up for retirement over the next ten years, meaning the health service will be more reliant on finding new staff than ever before.

“People deserve safe, high quality care for themselves and their loved ones. The bottom line is that more nurses are needed if safe staffing is going to be a reality in Scotland.”

Page last updated - 04/06/2019