The 'rapid acceleration' in the number of nursing posts being lost across Scotland is 'bad news for patients' says the director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland.
Figures released by the Information Services Division (ISD) of NHS Scotland show the number of nursing staff in Scotland is at its lowest point since 2006.
According to the ISD, there has been a decrease of 485.7 whole time equivalent (WTE) nursing and midwifery posts in the first three months of this financial year – from 31 March 2011 to 30 June 2011. This is compared to a loss of 711.3 posts over the previous 6 months and a loss of 550.2 posts over preceding year.
Nurse numbers are also expected to fall by a further 502.4 by March 2012, estimates the Scottish government.
"The rapid acceleration in the number of nursing posts being lost is bad news for patients," said Theresa Fyffe, director of RCN Scotland.
"The Scottish government and the NHS are now faced with a huge challenge – to find ways to deliver high quality services to more people with increasingly complex needs with an ever shrinking workforce.
"Pressure on health boards to balance books and make more and more savings has resulted in them chipping away at the workforce to save money on pay. It is now time for health boards to look more carefully at savings that could be made in other areas, such as sharing clinical and backroom services."
Fyffe calls on the Scottish government to 'step up to the plate' and support health boards in making difficult regional and national decisions to manage demand and change services, while ensuring quality and efficiency.
We asked if you think Scottish health boards are making cuts in the wrong places. Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"Yes I think there appears to be very little value attached to nursing posts and patient care nowadays. The quality of patient care that we deliver to patients in general and specialist roles is not now seen as the main priority and is seen as an easy target when budgets are being cut or posts are frozen if someone leaves" - TonyD, Greater Glasgow & Clyde
"Don't worry about a thing as the Tories' plans for private companies to run NHS hospitals will sort everything out! Not" - Lenny Allen, Dumfries
"Too many silly management posts, what are they for, eg, counting how many bins we have!!! Why do we need each Health Board to come up with the same policies and protocols, surely this should be a NHS Scotland remit, thus getting rid of at least a dozen useless positions in each Scottish Health
Board. I have been nursing for 32 years and it has never been this bad" - Margaret, Ayrshire
"Turkeys never vote for Xmas. Managers stick together so they have to cull those below them instead. To get around this, external people should be forced onto every health trust and hospital and they should choose who has to go instead of local managers. But it won't happen ... I wrote to my MP (Tory) about this very idea and got back a letter stating that they had
INCREASED the numbers of front line staff" - David Candlish, Cheshire
"The hospital I trained in 20 years ago had a nurses residence with 500 rooms in it, now these are all offices, filled with administration staff, no-one wants to see people losing their jobs but I think in the health staff, adequate clinical staff should be more important that adequate admin staff" - Hazel, Glasgow
"Yes absolutely, there should be no expense spared when it comes to patient care, the cuts should be starting from the top ie, management, board members, doctors, consultants as their salary is far too much and they don't have as much hands on with patient care like nurses do. More nurses are definitely needed" - Diane Craig, Johnstone
"The people who are going to suffer most are the patients. Maybe if the Scottish government didn't scrap prescription charges, we wouldn't be in this mess" - Andrea Harper, Glasgow
"Yes. Why do they always cut the workforce and keep the management?" - Name and address supplied
"Sadly it is not just Scottish health boards making cuts in the wrong places, I believe it reflects how hard the cuts are now hitting all areas of NHS services" - Marion Sylva, West Midlands
You are currently leaving the Nursing in Practice site. Are you sure you want to proceed?