Manifesto pledges to reduce detailed targets and a pledge to improve workforce planning by the Scottish Liberal Democrats have been welcomed by a leading nursing union.
The Royal College of Nursing Scotland’s (RCN Scotland) director Theresa Fyffe said pledges over targets and planning staff levels to recruit and retain people “broadly reflect that we’ve been saying over the past few years.”
The Liberal Democrats said in their manifesto that they wanted the health minister to publish an annual report on workforce planning.
In the manifesto, launched ahead of 5 May parliamentary elections, they said they wanted to work with the royal colleges to reduce “detailed targets that get in the way of effective clinical planning.”
They want to increase the share of the health budget on mental health, with a doubling of money spent on young people.
Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie plans to plug the predicted gap in the shortfall of GPs in the next five years by recruiting more GPs and increasing the number of support staff.
His package includes more nurses, allied health professionals and counsellors working at GP practices.
He also wants to give GPs in more deprived areas more resources to help tackle health inequalities.
The Lib Dems also pledged to fund the Scottish NHS so it stays ahead of inflation.
The manifesto said: “Our investment in mental health services, GPs and primary care, together with the joining up of health and social care will be underpinned by solid funding for the NHS.”
Fyffe said the pressures on the NHS could only be addressed if all health professionals work together equally.
Focusing on general practice and relegating the rest of the primary care workforce to a supporting role was not the answer, she said.
“It’s about making sure care is available in the community, when and where it’s needed. Advanced nurse practitioners (APNs), for example are already doing an amazing job providing out of hours care in a number of areas across Scotland and there’s comprehensive 24/7 mental health services in Grampian run by a team of ANPs.”
She said practice nurses are also accounting for a third of GP and practice nurse contacts.