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Staffing for safe and effective care

The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill is being debated at the Scottish Parliament. This is an opportunity to get staffing levels right so that patients always receive safe and effective care.

Workforce pressures, and the unprecedented demands on health and care services, mean that there are instances where care falls below the safe, high standards expected.

That’s why we’re asking you to join the RCN’s campaign to ‘Ask for more’ for nursing teams and their patients.
In 2017 RCN members spoke out about the staffing levels on their last shift in a 30,000 strong survey. More than half, 55 per cent, of those who took part said shifts fall short of planned staffing levels; and 53 per cent said that the shortage is compromising the care given to patients. 
The results of our survey are not surprising, when you consider that Scotland has a nursing vacancy rate of 5.3%, meaning that over 3,311 WTE posts are unfilled.
The reality of these figures means that nurses and health care support workers - whether in hospitals, community teams, or nursing homes - are struggling, day in and day out, to give care to patients. It is demoralising for nursing staff and distressing for patients.

Positive Outcomes Theme

Positive outcomes

Positive outcomes for people and staff must be at the heart of decision making.
Staff To Care Theme

Staff to care for people across Scotland

This legislation is a starting point. Work must continue to ensure that Scotland has the health and care staff it needs across nursing and other disciplines. The Scottish Government must take responsibility for ensuring a supply of nursing staff that meets demand.

Informed decision making

All decisions about staffing for nursing teams must be based on data and evidence, which is robust, up to date, and used appropriately.
Decision Making Theme

Responsibility, accountability, real time action and long term planning

Organisations must take responsibility for providing the right number of nursing staff. Staff should have the right knowledge, skills and experience and be deployed in the right place and at the right time to provide safe, high quality care to patients.
Accountability Theme

Professional Voice Theme

A strong professional voice

Nursing leaders, whether at a ward, team or governance level, should be able to exercise their professional judgement about whether there are the right number of nursing staff with the right knowledge, skills and experience, in the right place and at the right time.
Scrutiny & Sanction Theme

Scrutiny and sanction

There must be public scrutiny of staffing for safe and effective care and sanction if the law is not met.
Campaign Sentence Slogan

Speak out

Why not spread the word and share the 'Ask for more' campaign with your followers?

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Tweet your support


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If you're showing your support in a post on Facebook or by sharing a photo when you spot  one of our posters on Instagram  - don't forget to use our hashtag #askformore and include a link to this page

Find out more about what the RCN has been doing

If you want to know more about the RCN's work on staffing for safe and effective care you can contact the team at


Page last updated - 30/10/2018