More than 750 additional full-time staff are expected to be recruited to NHS Scotland next year, according to health board workforce projections.
Health boards have said they will recruit almost 100 more whole time equivalent (WTE) medical staff and 440.2 more WTE nursing and midwifery staff during 2016/17.
The Allied Health Professions, including radiographers, paramedics and physiotherapists, will also see an increase of 177.3 WTE staff this year, with the overall total NHS workforce growing by 764.8 WTE – a 0.6% increase.
Shona Robison, Scottish health secretary said the figures show the Government is “investing in and supporting a highly skilled NHS Scotland workforce”.
She said: “As the demand on our health service grows, we must continue to grow and invest in our NHS workforce. At the request of the Scottish Government, health boards have very carefully assessed their workforce needs for the coming year and identified the number of additional staff required to help deliver services.
“These planned increases comes on top of NHS staff numbers rising to record levels under this Government, with more consultants, nurses and midwives and allied health professionals now delivering care for the people of Scotland.”
However, Ellen Hudson, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland’s associate director, said that although the Scottish Government is “trying to address the shortage of nurses and repeatedly says that there are more nursing staff working in NHS Scotland”, Government figures show a vacancy rate of 3.6%, as 2,200 nursing posts are unfilled.
She said this gap is unsustainable and “puts even more pressure on existing staff who are working flat out on our wards and across communities.”
She added: “We need to look at how our health services are delivered if they are to be sustainable into the future. We have an ageing nursing workforce, too, with many nurses, particularly those working out in the community like health visitors and district nurses, due to retire over the next 5-10 years.
“The Scottish Government needs to make sure that health boards have the resources to invest in their nursing staff, while at the same time implementing changes to the way services are delivered for the future.”
Most health boards are projecting an increase in staffing levels over the next year, with NHS Grampian planning to recruit an additional 137.9 WTE employees, NHS Tayside planning to recruit an additional 137.8 WTE nursing and midwifery staff (up 2.6%) and the Scottish Ambulance Service planning to employ an extra 117.0 WTE staff members.
The Scottish Ambulance Service also plan to train up a number of their ambulance service staff to become paramedics, changing their classification to Allied Health Profession. This section of their workforce will grow by 141.0 WTE (up 10.4%).