NHS Scotland nursing vacancies continue to cause concern

3 Mar 2020

The number of nursing and midwifery posts vacant across Scotland’s NHS remains a major concern, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

New statistics published today (3 March, 2020) on the NHS Scotland workforce, show that the nursing and midwifery establishment – the number of nurses and midwives health boards have calculated they need – is increasing. But the statistics also show that NHS boards are still finding it difficult to recruit, with 5.6% of nursing and midwifery posts (3,607) vacant at December 2019 compared with 4.9% (3,089) in December 2018.

Today’s figures come on the back of polling that showed the public shares the RCN’s concerns and wants the Scottish Government to treat nursing recruitment as a priority.

There are particular challenges in a number of boards. In NHS Highland and NHS Grampian, the vacancy rates have dropped but at 8% or more are much higher than the average figure of 5.6%. For Scotland’s two biggest health boards - NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian - pressures continue with the number of vacancies increasing since September 2019. 

The Scottish Government’s Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act, scheduled to come into force towards the end of 2020, will place a duty on NHS and social care providers to make sure that, at all times, there are suitably qualified and competent staff working in the right numbers. Government must now ensure that NHS boards and integration authorities have funding and supply of qualified staff to allow them to meet their duties under the Act.

Commenting on the workforce statistics published today (3 March 2020) Theresa Fyffe, Director, RCN Scotland said:

“Today’s figures are yet more evidence of the pressures faced by Scotland’s NHS in maintaining a sustainable workforce. 

“The number of nurses and health care support workers in both our NHS and care home sector is simply not keeping pace with the number of people they are expected to care for. Our members repeatedly tell us that there isn’t enough of them to do their job properly. And the results of our poll show that the public agree.

“We need to ensure nursing is seen as an attractive and rewarding career and that policies and working conditions support nursing staff to stay in the profession.” 

Page last updated - 03/03/2020