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Nursing and midwifery vacancies in Scotland reach record high

There were more than 6,000 unfilled nursing posts at the end of 2021

More than 6,000 unfilled posts as RCN calls for an effective strategy from the Scottish Government to build on workforce to support nation’s services

Nursing and midwifery vacancies have reached a record high in Scotland, with more than 6,000 unfilled posts at the end of 2021.

The number of vacancies has increased by more than 1,000 in the last quarter alone, with more than 4,500 whole-time equivalent nursing posts vacant .

RCN Scotland said the stark figures make for ‘difficult reading’ as it called for an effective strategy from the Scottish Government to build the workforce needed to support the countries health and care services.

More than 6,000 unfilled posts as RCN calls for an effective strategy from the Scottish Government to build on workforce to support nation’s services

Nursing and midwifery vacancies in Scotland reach record high
Picture: iStock

Nursing and midwifery vacancies have reached a record high in Scotland, with more than 6,000 unfilled posts at the end of 2021.

The number of vacancies has increased by more than 1,000 in the last quarter alone, with more than 4,500 whole-time equivalent nursing posts vacant.

RCN Scotland said the stark figures make for ‘difficult reading’ as it called for an effective strategy from the Scottish Government to build the workforce needed to support the countries health and care services.

‘Nursing staff need to know that they are valued and that their safety critical role is recognised,’ RCN Scotland interim director Colin Poolman said.

More than 1,500 posts have been vacant for three months or longer

‘Ensuring safe staffing levels combined with a fair pay award are key to Scotland having the workforce it needs.’

As at 31 December 2021, 6,674 nursing and midwifery posts were vacant, a jump of almost 1,000 posts since 30 September 2021.

More than 1,500 have been vacant for three months or longer, a rate that has been rising steadily since the end of 2020.

But the Scottish Government said its NHS workforce has reached a record high with the number of doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, and support staff working across Scotland’s hospitals and in communities increasing by more than 7,000 in the past year.

There are 64,989 nursing and midwifery staff working in Scotland’s NHS, which official data shows is a 4.2% increase over the past year.

Vacancy rates at a glance

NHS Scotland ‘not financially sustainable’, says Audit Scotland

Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf said: ‘Work is ongoing to further enhance NHS workforce levels and support health boards to fill posts as our investment in NHS staffing continues to create significant numbers of new roles in the system.’

It comes as a review by Audit Scotland found Scotland’s NHS is ‘not financially sustainable’ and must prioritise recruitment as the nation moves out of the pandemic.

In England, the number of unfilled nursing posts has risen to 39,652, according to NHS England data published last week.


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