Record number of nursing and midwifery vacancies in Scotland, RCN warns

New workforce data reveal the ‘highest ever’ number of nursing and midwifery vacancies, according to RCN Scotland.

The ‘highest ever’ number of nursing and midwifery vacancies has been recorded across Scotland, according to an RCN analysis of new workforce data.

Picture: iStock

One in 20 nursing and midwifery posts in NHS Scotland is unfilled, according to the college.

The overall vacancy rate for whole time equivalent nurses and midwives on 30 June 2017 was 5.2%, according to figures published on Tuesday by the Information Services Division Scotland.

The figures show the quarterly update of staff in post, vacancies and turnover.

Since March there have been increases in vacancy rates of 5.5% for district nursing, 5.3% for adult nursing and 4.4% for mental health nursing.

The figure for health visiting is 7.3%, and for children’s nursing 7.1%. The highest numbers of posts vacant for three months or more were in these two specialties, the RCN warned.

RCN Scotland associate director Norman Provan said: ‘Again, we are seeing record numbers of vacancies across the NHS in Scotland. This is a further indication that the Scottish government and health boards have failed to future proof the workforce.

‘Faced with gaps in their teams, nursing staff are working under enormous pressure and constantly being asked to do more with less. Without strategic long-term planning and ensuring nursing staff are paid fairly for the work they do, patients won’t get the care they need.


‘We have asked the Scottish government to ensure their proposed bill on safe and effective staffing in health and social care supports improved workforce planning, and that it safeguards patients by guaranteeing the right staff, in the right place, at the right time.’

But Scottish health secretary Shona Robison claimed the government is committed to record investment in the health service.

She said: ‘Under this government there are now over 11,800 more whole time equivalent staff working in our NHS, with more consultants, nurses and midwives delivering care for the people of Scotland. Helping ensure people all across Scotland get the high-quality NHS services that they rightly expect.

‘We are committed to record investment in our health service and to ensuring the necessary reforms to deliver the right staff, with the right skills, in the right place long into the future. This is why we’re introducing a national and regional workforce planning system across the NHS in Scotland.  

‘Our National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan will strengthen and harmonise workforce planning, better accounting for future demand and identifying gaps in supply. 

‘Through this we will deliver 2,600 additional nursing and midwifery training places by the end of this parliament.’

In other news