Nursing and midwife training places increased for seventh consecutive year in Scotland

Written by Tom Freeman on 8 November 2018 in News

Scotland increases nurse and midwife student places for seventh year after warnings on staffing levels

NHS Scotland nurses - Scottish Government

Places for nursing and midwifery students in Scotland are to be raised for the seventh consecutive year, the Scottish Government has announced.

From 2019/20 there will over 4,000 places available in Scotland, according to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, an increase of 7.6 per cent.

The announcement comes shortly after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced an increase in the bursary for student nurses to over £10,000 a year in 2020.

The moves come as Audit Scotland warned staffing levels was a major issue in the sustainability of NHS Scotland.

Midwifery will enjoy a rise in student uptake of 13.7 per cent, while mental health nursing places will increase by 16.7 per cent and learning disability nursing places will be up 18 per cent.

Speaking during a visit to Glasgow Caledonian University, Freeman said: "Our nurses and midwives are critical to the success of our NHS and will continue to be so.

“We are acutely aware of the demand across Scotland in a variety of settings and I want to ensure our NHS is well equipped to continue to provide the best possible care for patients.”

Eileen McKenna, Associate Director of Professional Practice at RCN Scotland said: “This is a much needed increase in the number of student places and we are pleased that the Scottish Government has listened to our concerns and recognised that Scotland needs more nurses.

“Demand for health and social care continues to increase, nursing vacancy rates are at an all-time high and a significant number of nurses are reaching an age where they can retire.

"Having the right number of nurses to meet demand is a fundamental step for the safety of patients and in ensuring that nurses are able to remain in the profession.”

Dr Mary Ross-Davie, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Director for Scotland said: “The RCM believes this increase in student numbers, along with the Government’s commitment to sustaining and supporting return to practice programmes, the ongoing provision of bursary support for student midwives are a positive response to the growing midwifery workforce issues across Scotland.

“Importantly we must now ensure these additional students have a really positive learning experience not only in their universities, but also in their midwifery practice.

“For this to happen the RCM believes there needs to be additional resources for midwives in practice. We most also continue offering mentorship to support our midwifery students and have enough lecturers to deliver high quality teaching and support.”

The Scottish Government also revealed almost 460 former nurses and midwives have signed up to retrain through the Return to Practice programme, since 2015.

England saw applications to study nursing plummet in recent years after the UK Government removed bursaries for the courses.

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