An estimated 2,600 extra nursing and midwifery training places will be created over the next four years as part of wide-ranging measures to support and strengthen NHS Scotland’s workforce.
The National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan, sets out how the SNP Government will work with partners to secure sustainable NHS staffing alongside its programme of change in health and social care.
Other measures that will seek to increase the supply of nurses include extended ‘return to practice’ programmes, improved recruitment and retention, particularly in rural areas, and support to attract and retain staff. These steps will be focused on priority areas including primary care, mental health, midwifery, maternal and child health and more remote areas.
Up to 100 additional medical student places are also being created over and above the extra 40 places from next September, contributing towards a more sustainable medical workforce.
Other commitments in the workforce plan include:
Establishment of a new National Workforce Planning group to oversee the recommendations
Further work with health boards to strengthen the recruitment and retention of staff
Improved national, regional and local planning to ensure staff resources are allocated effectively.
The NHS workforce plan sets out details of how the workforce will be changed to meet the needs of a changing NHS, with more staff based in primary care and the community. A follow-up plan will be published in the autumn, covering social care, with a third for primary care around the end of the year. A combined plan will be published in 2018.
Kenneth Gibson said:
“The NHS workforce is at record levels in Scotland, but it’s clear that demand is going to continue to rise in the years ahead. Increasing staff numbers is part of the solution.
“The SNP Government has enabled health boards to recruit, develop and retain the multidisciplinary and flexible workforce we need to continue to deliver high quality healthcare for the people of Scotland. Creating that sustainable workforce is a crucial part of supporting our Health and Social Care Delivery Plan.
“Nursing and midwifery is by far the largest staff group in the NHS. I’m pleased that The SNP Government is committed to delivering 2,600 additional nursing and midwifery training places.
“Along with actions to increase the number of doctors, these steps are part of wide ranging measures to support and sustain our NHS workforce. They will be delivered in tandem with work to shift the balance of care, and to ensure roles keep pace with changing needs.” These commitments will take total training places to 12,000 – a record high.
Since the SNP came to office, NHS Scotland staff numbers have risen by 12,646 (12,369 whole time equivalent), an increase of 8.4% (9.7% whole time equivalent).