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by Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland
13 October 2022
Associate Feature: Facing up to Scotland’s nursing workforce crisis

Credit: Anna Watson/Alamy Live News

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Associate Feature: Facing up to Scotland’s nursing workforce crisis

This week the Scottish Government outlined plans to prepare health and care services for winter. Services are already under severe pressure due to the nursing workforce crisis and our members fear what winter will bring. There has been no let-up over summer, and experienced nursing staff tell us that things have never been as bad. Nursing is a safety critical profession and patient care is being compromised daily because of dangerously low staffing levels.

We continue to hear Ministers talk about record numbers of nurses but the reality is that we’re short of over 6,000 NHS nursing and midwifery staff. Shortages across community, care home and hospital settings all have an impact and initiatives to tackle waiting times cannot succeed without first addressing the workforce crisis. The reform of social care and creation of a National Care Service cannot succeed without first tackling the nursing workforce crisis.   

Ministers must ensure nursing is an attractive and rewarding career so that we can retain and recruit the nursing workforce Scotland desperately needs. All of this is underpinned by safe staffing levels and fair pay. That is why, for the first time ever, RCN members working in NHS Scotland are to be balloted on taking strike action after members voted overwhelmingly to reject the Scottish Government’s pay offer. Our members are telling us that enough is enough and the government’s failure to listen and act has left us no choice but to advocate for strike action.

Being told they are the best paid in the UK does not help nursing staff in Scotland with the rising cost of living or make up for years of wage stagnation. It does not make staff feel more valued and does nothing to address the recruitment and retention crisis. Scotland’s nursing staff need solutions, not excuses.

Colin Poolman is Director of RCN Scotland

The article is sponsored by RCN Scotland

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