Recruiting more nursing staff should be a priority for Scottish Government spending

27 Feb 2020

New polling suggests widespread concern that there are too few nursing staff to provide safe and effective care for the people of Scotland.

Safe staffing survey In a survey for the Royal College of Nursing, three quarters of the public surveyed on the Scotpulse panel recognised that Scotland needs more nursing staff and listed recruiting more nurses as the top priority for Scottish Government spending on health and care. 

This comes as the Scottish Government budget is debated in parliament. The draft budget includes funding to grow the district nursing workforce, to support the implementation of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act and to support mental health services. 

With almost 4,000 nursing and midwifery vacancies within the NHS and an estimated 20% registered nurse vacancy level in the care homes sector, nurses and health care support workers are under immense pressure and the vast majority feel they do not have time to care for patients as they would wish.

These concerns are reflected by the public.  With 75% voicing that there are too few nursing staff to provide safe and effective care to patients, many had concerns on the impact on care.  Around two thirds of those polled highlighted that they would be concerned that, if they or a family member needed nursing care, that they would receive timely clinical care from staff with the right skills or experience. More than 70% were concerned about being discharged at the right time.
Those polled considered the number of hours nursing staff work and the salary they receive as the main factors influencing nursing numbers and 60% expressed the view that increasing salaries for nurses and healthcare support workers should be a Scottish Government priority.

Theresa Fyffe, Director, RCN Scotland said: “Nursing is consistently ranked as the most trusted profession and it is time Scotland’s political leaders recognised and valued the contribution of nursing staff in line with the general public.

“The additional funding for health and social care services outlined in the budget is welcome, however, given the scale of the challenges, we need to see a continued long-term focus to tackle the current staffing shortage and meet ever increasing need.

“Getting the implementation of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act right will provide a framework to address these workforce shortages and support staff at all levels to raise and respond to risks. However, it will only be successful if there is sufficient funding for health and care providers to meet their safe staffing duties under the Act in a sustainable way.”

Page last updated - 28/07/2020