Nursing and workforce spending to go up in Scotland

Scottish Government announces budget increase – but warns of challenges to come

Scottish Government announces budget increase – but warns of challenges to come

The Scottish Parliament. Picture: iStock

The Scottish Government plans to spend £216.2 million on workforce and nursing in 2019/20.

This figure is included in the 2019/20 Scottish budget published this week and is part of £14 billion proposed spending on health and care services.

The workforce and nursing package is an increase from the previous budget of £193.1.

Government’s health and social care budget priorities

  • 2,600 extra nurse and midwifery training places by 2021
  • £3 million to train 500 more advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs) by 2021
  • £20 million per annum to recruit and train additional health visitors
  • £6.9 million over three years for the training and education of district and practice nurses
  • £250 million over the next five years to support measures for children and young people including an additional 250 school nurses in place by 2022
  • Social care priorities include enabling an increase in payments for free personal and nursing care


Free tuition for nursing and midwifery students will continue in Scotland, with £11.1 million being invested to increase the level of bursary support in 2019-20, with a further £25.4 million committed for 2020-21.

But in its budget announcement the government warned of challenges arising from a ‘highly uncertain environment’ including Brexit.

Nursing and midwifery vacancies

The latest NHS workforce statistics for Scotland recorded a vacancy rate of 5.3% (2,401 whole-time-equivalent) for nursing and midwifery posts in the quarter ending 30 September 2018, with 1.9% (876 whole-time-equivalent) of those posts vacant for three months or more.

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe called on the government to back the implementation of a safe staffing bill.

‘Nurses and healthcare support workers across the NHS and care home sector are under immense pressure, with the vast majority feeling they do not have time to care for patients as they would wish to,' she said. 

‘While the additional funding is welcome, it needs to be targeted to ensure we have the workforce we need now and in the future.’

'The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill provides an opportunity to address this but it will only be successful if there is adequate funding to support implementation.’

Last month a government committee said the proposed bill required more clarity on who takes responsibility for setting workforce levels.

The proposed budget will be debated in the Scottish parliament next month. 

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