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Scotland sees increase in nursing staff and agency nurses

Scotland has boosted its numbers of NHS staff, with the biggest increase in full-time nurses and midwifes, official statistics from ISD Scotland show.

From March 2014 to 2015 there was an overall increase of 1,977.8 full-time NHS staff (working a 37.5 hour week) in Scotland, with 1,001.8 of these nurses or midwives.

Shona Robison, Scotland health, well-being and sport secretary said the number of NHS staff overall was at a record high, and: “This demonstrates that, to give people the high-quality health care they deserve, we are investing in and supporting a highly skilled NHS Scotland workforce.”

The use of agency nursing and midwifery staff increased by 53.4%, over the past year. Agency staff provided cover equivalent to 191 full-time staff at a cost of £16m, compared to 124 whole time staff (£9.3m) the year before.

Bank nurse usage also increased over the same period from 3,933 full time staff in 2014 to 4,256 full time staff in 2015.

Last week, the latest NHS Scotland figures discovered that staff sickness and vacancy rates are increasing, leaving both agency and bank nursing staff to fill in the space.

Theresa Fyffe, director Royal College of Nursing Scotland said: “While credit must be given to the Scottish Government and health boards for increasing the number of nurses they employ, we did warn that cuts to the nursing workforce should never have been made over the period 2009 to 2012.

“Coupled with a lack of supply due to the reduction in nursing students over the same period, we are now seeing a workforce that is overstretched and overburdened, as health boards struggle to replace nurses who leave or retire and patient demand continues to rise,” she said.