Doctors call for ‘safe staffing levels’ in Scottish NHS

Doctors are calling for “safe staffing levels” in NHS Scotland to be a priority for the new Scottish Government following the May election.

Doctors are calling for “safe staffing levels” in NHS Scotland to be a priority for the new Scottish Government following the May election.

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) sets out its priorities for the new administration today, including calling for a portion control policy to be considered following on from the plan for a sugar tax.

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The organisation wants improved workforce planning to address challenges in recruiting and retaining employees, and warns the size and structure of the medical workforce must be reassessed to account for the needs of an ageing population and deal with vacancies, rota challenges and trainee attrition rates.

Successful integration of health and social care to enable patients to be treated in the community is also a priority.

RCPE president Professor Derek Bell said: “Developing and implementing safe staffing levels across all professions in the NHS in Scotland must be a policy priority and will be an essential part of ensuring we can deliver high-quality weekend and out-of-hours care.

“It is also important that we learn from previous failings in care to minimise the risk of recurrence. Part of this will be acknowledging and valuing the contribution of the healthcare workforce at all levels.

“As well as addressing workforce issues, we must continue to improve the health and wellbeing of the population. We know the causes and consequences of obesity and problems associated with alcohol and tobacco are significant.

“The costs to both the NHS and patients are high, both financially and in terms of avoidable suffering and health problems. Preventative measures such as reduced food portion or pack sizes should be considered alongside policies such as the sugary drinks tax by the incoming government.”

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “The NHS workforce in Scotland is at a record high having increased by more than 10,000 whole time equivalent employees under this government, including around 25 per cent more doctors and around 2,300 more nurses and midwives.

“We are determined to attract and retain the best in the healthcare profession, which is why the First Minister recently announced a £27 million package to increase medical school places, train 500 more advanced nurse practitioners and support nursing and midwifery students experiencing financial hardship.”