‘Lack of detail’ in delayed health and social care workforce plan, warns RCN

Written by Tom Freeman on 30 June 2017 in News

New health and care workforce document from the Scottish Government only deals with the NHS workforce

NHS Scotland nurses - Scottish Government

The Scottish Government’s delayed health and social care workforce plan is incomplete and lacks detail, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland.

The National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan, published this week, was due last year to explain how NHS workforce will be integrated with social care staff.

However the document is labelled ‘part one’ of a framework, and focuses only on NHS staff, particularly nurses.


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It includes plans for an estimated 2,600 new nursing and midwifery training places over the next four years.

Theresa Fyffe, RCN Scotland Director, said the publication raised more questions than answers.

“The devil will be in the detail, and a lot of the detail is missing from this plan,” she said.

“On the face of it, the increase doesn’t cover the existing 2,800 nursing and midwifery vacancies in the NHS in Scotland.

“The plan doesn’t set out how much money is going to be invested in growing the nursing workforce.”

The Scottish Government said a “combined plan” will be published in 2018.

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “This first plan sets out how we intend to recruit, develop and retain the multidisciplinary and flexible workforce we need to continue to deliver high quality healthcare for the people of Scotland.

“Creating that sustainable workforce is a crucial part of supporting our Health and Social Care Delivery Plan, published in December.”

Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Anas Sarwar said nursing training places had been cut during Nicola Sturgeon’s stint as health secretary.

“This plan is simply an admission of Nicola Sturgeon’s failure and exposes a decade of SNP mismanagement of our NHS,” he said.

“Labour welcomes the promise of additional training places, and we hope it is a promise the SNP government keeps.”

Scottish Green health spokesperson Alison Johnstone said the fact the document only relates to health staff, with a separate document on social care staff due in autumn, meant it was “a job half done”.

“The purpose of a national health and social care workforce plan was to ensure that we have adequate staff in place for all parts of our health and social care system,” she said. 

“Given our GP recruitment crisis I’m concerned that GP workforce planning has been relegated to a supplement. It is hugely disappointing to see disjointed plans appear in stages.

“I am concerned that this approach will not take full account of staffing needs outwith the NHS, such as nursing posts in our care homes, which often have high vacancy rates.”

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