Scotland facing nursing 'retirement boom'

The number of nurses set to retire in Scotland over the next decade has risen, sparking fears of a future staff shortage. 
Older nurse

More nurses need to be trained to tackle future staff shortages in Scotland, Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Donald Cameron has urged.

Mr Cameron said that the NHS in Scoltand was facing a potential ‘retirement boom’, as nearly one fifth of nurses and midwives are due to retire in the next decade.

He called on the Scottish Government to put plans in place for more nurse training and recruitment to avoid a shortage.

‘We can't afford to be caught cold by this,’ Mr Cameron added.


The number of nurses expected to retire in the next decade has risen in the past five years to 17.8%, up from 14.3% in 2011, Scottish Conservatives figures show.

However, the number of nursing students has increased this year, which is ‘good news’ for tackling the nursing shortage that already exists, according to RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe.

But she stressed that the increase needed to be maintained to avoid a ‘boom and bust’ in the workforce, and the expertise of older nurses should not be ignored.  

‘We need to find ways to retain the skills of older nurses who wish to remain in the profession – but without expecting them to continue the physically demanding work of frontline care,’ Ms Fyffe said.

Health visitors

Concerns have also been raised by the Scottish Conservatives over numbers of health visitors, just weeks before the roll-out of the contraversial named person policy.

The policy will mean every child will have a 'named person' – who can be a midwife, health visitor, or teacher –  to monitor their welfare and be a point of contact for parents seeking information or advice.

Workforce figures show there are 182 health visitor vacancies in Scotland, up from 144 in March 2015. This equates to 8.6% of health visitor roles currently unfilled.