Nurses believe patient care suffering from staff shortages, warns RCN

Written by Nicholas Keyden on 31 July 2017 in News

RCN staff survey highlighted in report to Scottish Parliament

Half of Scotland’s nurses believe patient care is suffering due to continued staffing shortages, according to a new report.

A survey submitted to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee by the Royal College of Nurses also identified that over a third reported the use of agency staff during their most recent shift.

A total of 3,300 nurses were consulted in Scotland, as The RCN called for a “root and branch” review of the target culture within the NHS.


The research was passed to the Health and Sport Committee as part of the 2018/19 draft budget.

It read: “Respondents reported insufficient staffing and the impact of this on patient care with half of those responding in Scotland reporting that patient care was compromised on their last shift.

“There needs to be recognition of the fact that people are the NHS’ greatest resource and that investment in workforce will have a positive impact for patients, as well as seeing improvements in areas like sickness rates and retention.”

The report also shows that supplementary staffing accounts for around one in eight, impacting the standard of patient care.

According to ISD Scotland, the total spent on agency nursing and midwifery has risen by approximately £80,000 since 2011.

Responding to the findings, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Shona Robison, said: “For the last five years, this Government has made consecutive increases to the number of student nurse training places.

“We’re working with health boards to reduce the overall use of agency staff, including by establishing regional and national staff banks – which allows health boards greater access to a pool of highly-skilled, flexible NHS staff.

“Our recently published NHS workforce plan also sets out a commitment to delivering around 2,600 additional nursing and midwifery training places by the end of this Parliament, as part of a wide-ranging set of measures to support and sustain our workforce.

“We are working closely with stakeholders, including the RCN on the development of the legislation.”

Scottish Labour’s spokesperson for health, Anas Sarwar, said: “This is a deeply worrying revelation.

“It reinforces our warnings that the SNP has presided over a workforce crisis in our NHS, leaving staff over-worked, under-valued and under-resourced.

“Morale is at rock bottom in the health service, with staff reporting there simply aren’t enough of them to do the job properly. That risks compromising patient safety.

“Scottish Labour’s workforce commission will bring together professionals from across the NHS, representing different sectors, who will together examine the underlying causes for this staffing crisis and importantly develop a strategy to ensure our NHS is fit for the 21st century.”

The Liberal Democrats also criticised the SNP, claiming more was needed to protect patients.

Spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “The fact that nurses feel that patient safety has been compromised due to lack of staff is deeply worrying.

“The SNP need to step in immediately and make sure that our wards are fully staffed.

“That starts by scrapping the NHS pay cap and give staff the resources and support they need to do their jobs.” 




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