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University places for student nurses in Scotland increase by 10%

The Scottish Government has today announced a more than 10% increase in the number of places for student nurses in the next academic year.

There will be a 10.8% increase to the 2018/19 intake, bringing the total to 3,724 nursing and midwifery places. This means that there will be 364 additional nursing students across Scotland’s universities.

Breakdown of new places
  • Adult nursing - 246 more places (10.6% increase)
  • Mental health nursing - 51 more places (11.0% increase)
  • Learning disability nursing - 12 more places (10.9% increase)
  • Children’s nursing - 20 more places (7.5% increase)
  • Midwifery - 35 more places (18.3% increase)

The nursing and midwifery vacancy rate for Scotland is at 4.5% with 2,789 whole time equivalent vacancies, according to the latest details from Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland released in September 2017. In June, the vacancy rate reached 5.2% – the highest rate recorded.

The Scottish Care report Independent Sector Nursing Data 2017, published last November, showed a care home nurse vacancy level of around 31% - an increase from 28% in 2016.

Over half (51%) of the over 3,000 members who responded to Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland's 2017 safe and effective staffing survey said that their most recent shift was not staffed to the level planned, and 53% of them said that care was compromised as a result.

Ellen Hudson, the RCN Scotland associate director, said: 'Scotland needs more nurses. Over the past year we have seen the highest ever rates of nursing vacancies within our NHS and significantly higher levels of nursing vacancies within the care home sector.

'Nurses are struggling to deal with increased workloads and we know more nurses will be retiring over the coming years. In our recent survey on safe and effective staffing, our members told us that a lack of nursing staff is having an impact on patient care. So today’s announcement on student places for 2018/19 is a move in the right direction.

We welcomed the Widening Access Commission’s proposal to review student funding and we will work with the Scottish Government to take forward this, and the other recommendations, to encourage people from a diverse range of backgrounds to choose nursing as a career.'