Associate Feature: Fair pay for nursing
Nursing staff provide care from birth to end of life. They care for the entire population of Scotland, for our families and loved ones, but today Scotland’s nursing workforce is in crisis.
Nearly one in 10 NHS nursing posts are unfilled leaving a huge gap between the number of nursing staff we need and the number actually in post. In social care, we have an estimated 11% nurse vacancy rate.
We hear from our members daily that patient care is compromised due to dangerously low staffing levels. Experienced nursing staff tell us that, in their lengthy careers, things have never been as bad. On top of the pressures at work, the cost-of-living increases are biting hard – with difficult choices becoming a daily reality.
Our members are telling us that enough is enough. They need to see light at the end of the tunnel, to know things are going to improve. If not, I fear for the future of the nursing profession in Scotland and for the services that rely on nursing staff.
Next month we will take the historic step of balloting our members on strike action. This follows the overwhelming rejection of the Scottish government’s pay offer. Industrial action is a last resort, but the current staffing crisis is causing unacceptable risk to patients and staff. Failure to listen and act has left us no choice but to advocate for strike action.
Scotland’s nursing and wider health and social care workforce need support. Safe staffing levels must be the norm. Workforce planning needs fixed so we can address the crisis and ensure that we never end up in this situation again. Underpinning all of this is the need to pay nursing staff fairly for the safety critical work they do, so that we can attract people into nursing and retain the excellent staff we already have.
This article is sponsored by the Royal College of Nursing.