Concerns over vacant nursing and midwifery posts in Scotland

The percentage of vacant nursing and midwifery posts in Scotland has risen by 16% in three months, new data suggests.

The percentage of vacant nursing and midwifery posts in Scotland has risen by 16% in three months, new data suggests.

The number of nursing and midwifery posts lying vacant – given as a whole-time equivalent to account for part-time workers – has risen by 16% in the three months from March to June 2016, according to statistics released by Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland.

Of the 2,566 empty posts in June this year, 598 were vacant for three months or more.

The ISD Scotland statistics show:

  • The nursing and midwifery vacancy rate in June stood at 4.2%, a 13.5% increase in the past year.
  • A total of 59,188 whole-time equivalent nurses and midwives were in post in June 2016, a 0.3% drop from March but a 0.2% increase since June 2015.

Health secretary Shona Robison stressed the government would work with health boards to reduce long-term vacancies, adding vacancy levels would fluctuate as the workforce increased.

She said: 'Under this government, NHS staff numbers have risen significantly, with more consultants, nurses and midwives now delivering care for the people of Scotland.

'As we increase the workforce, we expect to see vacancy levels fluctuate given the natural turnover of staff in an organisation of this size.

'Fluctuations are also caused by increased number of posts available.'

Workload growth

A recent RCN survey revealed almost 9 in 10 nurses in Scotland (88.3%) said their workload had got worse.

The 2015 NHS Scotland staff survey also found only 26% of nurses and midwives felt that there were enough staff to do their job properly.

Unsustainable future

RCN Scotland associate director Norman Provan called the number of vacant posts 'worrying'.

‘Relying on the goodwill of staff, who just want to do their best for patients, is not the way to run a health service and is not sustainable for the future,' he said.

‘It’s not good enough for the Scottish Government to say there are more staff in the NHS now and ignore both the pressures facing staff on a daily basis, and the realities of rising demand on our health and care services.

‘The way in which these services are delivered needs to change urgently. Health boards can only do so much within their current budgets.’

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