Covid Scotland: Record shortage of nurses is 'serious threat' to patient care, says union

Scotland’s ‘crisis’ of nursing staff shortages is a serious threat to patient care, a union has warned.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) urged the Scottish Government to take “urgent action” to combat record-high levels of staff vacancies.

Workforce shortages have a major impact on staff wellbeing and patient safety, the RCN said in a report published ahead of a meeting this week with senior politicians.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“There are simply not enough nursing staff to provide the care our population needs,” it said.

Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty ImagesPicture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The report also warned it will take years for the NHS to recover from the pandemic, and called for practices of staff being spread more thinly adopted in extreme circumstances in the past two years not to be accepted as routine.

The RCN has urged the Scottish Government to implement recommendations for safe staffing levels voted through parliament in 2019.

Julie Lamberth, RCN Scotland Board Chair, said: “Nursing staff should not be forced to take on additional hours on health board nurse banks or nursing agencies, because they feel the need to support hard-pressed colleagues working with fewer staff than required, or to make ends meet.”

Read More
Covid Scotland: A&E waiting times hit new worst performance on record

Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland Interim Director, said: “Nurses have been telling policymakers and planners for years about the problems they face due to gaps in the numbers and not having the right mix of skills in the workforce.

“The Scottish Parliament passed ground-breaking safe staffing legislation almost three years ago. Yet the Scottish government has failed to even set out a clear timetable for implementation. And the Scottish government’s workforce strategy, published recently, frankly raised more questions than it answered. It failed to set out a clear plan for how the government’s vision will be delivered."

Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Alex McMahon, said the government will consider the report’s recommendations carefully.

He said: “Our National Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care is designed to embed a new, long-term approach, stressing the need to plan, attract, train, employ and nurture staff.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It commits to understanding the change in demand for services as we recover, rebuild and transform our health service, and how we can achieve a more sustainable, skilled workforce which makes careers in health and social care – at all levels – more attractive.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.