Labour will launch NHS workforce commission 'within ten weeks'

Written by Tom Freeman on 25 February 2017 in News

Scottish Labour will look to improve pay deals for nurses and social care staff, announces Anas Sarwar

Anas Sarwar - PA

Scottish Labour will establish a commission to assess how the NHS and social care workforce needs to change, the party's health spokesman Anas Sarwar has announced.

In his speech to party conference in Perth, Sarwar said the group would be established "within ten weeks" and explore how staff such as nurses could be paid more.

This will include looking at additional pay for nurses paid from a direct fund, and the scrapping of the one per cent cap on pay rises for all NHS staff.


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The pledge comes after Audit Scotland produced a briefing paper recently highlighting challenges of an ageing workforce and failures to adapt to new ways fo working.

The spending watchdog warned vacancy rates are rising as more and more staff approach retirement, while boards increasingly rely on expensive agency staff.

Doctor's union the BMA and professional bodies have also issued warnings on workforce.

Sarwar said: “We have a Scottish Government that has had no meaningful workforce plan for 10 years. I can announce today that Scottish Labour will have a workforce commission up and running in 10 weeks.

“Working with colleagues across the NHS we will bring forward solutions to the workforce crisis. In particular, the commission will look a number of key areas which I think need urgent action. First, it will consider increasing the number of training places for nurses and midwives.  -reversing the cut Nicola Sturgeon made when she was Health Secretary 

“Secondly, the commission will be consider ways to attract more nurses and reduce drop-out rates  including how we put more money directly into student nurses’ pockets with additional financial support paid direct to them. 

“Thirdly, the commission will consider the impact of seven years of pay restraint that has seen median incomes drop in real terms by 9 per cent.  So to improve staff morale and increase retention, it will consider how we can finally scrap the 1 per cent pay cap for NHS staff. 

“And the commission will also be asked to consider the best way to clamp down on private agency spend, which has sky rocketed to £175 million this year. "  

Currently 55 per cent of NHS Scotland spending is on staff, with staff numbers are at their highest ever level.

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