An overseas recruitment drive for nurses by NHS Scotland won’t solve the country’s staff shortage, the RCN has said.
As part of a £4.5m initiative, NHS Scotland has signed 191 nurses from countries including India and the Philippines, with some already in posts at hospitals across the country.
Agreements are also in place with recruitment agencies for a further 203 to help address the challenges facing the NHS.
Although RCN Scotland director Colin Poolman said the move was welcome, the numbers were ‘a drop in the ocean in the context of the current nursing workforce crisis in Scotland’.
Mr Poolman said: ‘With more than 6,700 nursing post unfilled in the NHS alone, including 4,500 registered nurses, staffing levels are not going to be fixed by recruiting a small number of nurses from overseas.
‘With staff exhausted after an unrelenting two years, the Scottish Government needs to implement meaningful and significant changes in order to retain the staff we need in our NHS, including an improved and fully funded workforce plan and fair pay for nursing staff, wherever they work.’
The Scottish government said the recruitment figure was ‘likely to increase significantly over the coming months’ as boards take advantage of new infrastructure for employing qualified international staff.
Health and social care secretary Humza Yousaf said the government was ‘determined to continue this progress’.
Mr Yousaf added: ‘Our hardworking and compassionate health and social care staff have been on the frontline of patient care throughout the pandemic and I am incredibly grateful to them all.
‘In October, we set ambitious targets to boost the number of health care support staff and step up international nurse recruitment. I am delighted with the success of the recruitment campaigns and seeing the new staff already providing frontline patient care.’
NHS Scotland has more than 155,000 whole time equivalent (WTE) staff, although a poll published by the RCN in January showed six in 10 nursing staff in Scotland were either considering or planning on quitting their jobs.
Although the number of WTE nurses and midwives employed by NHS Scotland increased from 64,232 at the end of September 2021 to 64,989 at the end of December 2021, the number of vacancies also increased from 5,761 to 6,674.