The event brought together members from diverse professional backgrounds to speak directly with the Cabinet Secretary of Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf MSP and key opposition MSPs including Jackie Baillie (Labour), Craig Hoy (Conservative), Alex Cole-Hamilton (Liberal Democrats) and Gillian Mackay (Greens).
Scotland’s Chief Nursing Officer, Prof. Alex McMahon and representatives from the Scottish Executive Nurse Directors group also joined the session which was chaired by RCN President Dr Denise Chaffer. The event followed the publication of the RCN’s first Nursing Workforce in Scotland Report. The report contains a new analysis of workforce data and highlights the need for urgent action to tackle the nursing staffing crisis.
Members shared their experiences of working through the pandemic, their concerns for the safety of their patients and for the wellbeing of colleagues and themselves. They discussed the changes needed to protect the future of nursing and to ensure Scotland has the nursing workforce it needs.
The need to do more to retain experienced nursing staff, to ensure they feel valued and are provided with opportunities to upskill and support those entering the profession was a key theme of the discussion. Concerns about pension changes, the pressures of the last two years and the lack of flexible working opportunities were cited as issues impacting on the numbers looking to leave nursing.
There was cross party support on the need to implement Scotland’s safe staffing legislation, with a commitment from the Cabinet Secretary to look at a clear timetable.
RCN Scotland Director Colin Poolman said: “That we had the Cabinet Secretary and representatives from all Scotland’s political parties together in a room demonstrates that the nursing voice matters.
“All those attending the meeting acknowledged the challenges facing the profession and we will continue to press for action. The stories shared by our members will help shape our influencing priorities in the months ahead.”
The conversation also covered concerns over increases in the cost of living and, in particular, the rising cost of fuel for community nursing staff. Fair pay that values the safety critical role of nursing staff, improvements to terms and conditions and workplace culture were all considered as part of the solution.
RCN President Dr Denise Chaffer said: “Scotland’s political and nursing leaders heard very powerful personal experiences that were shared by members. This meeting was just the start of the dialogue and and we will continue our work to ensure the nursing workforce receives the recognition and support it deserves.”
- New report highlights urgent action needed to tackle Scotland’s staffing crisis
- Safe Staffing in Scotland