Decline in Scottish nursing posts set to continue

Nearly 400 NHS nursing posts are due to be cut in Scotland during 2012-13, unions have claimed.

The Scottish government said last week that an estimated 325 whole time equivalent nursing and midwifery posts were set be lost between March 2012 and March 2013, of which 284 have already gone.

This represents a 0.6% reduction in the nursing and midwifery workforce over 12 months, down from 56,435 to 56,110.

However, the figures are complicated by the inclusion of 175 nursing interns that have worked in NHS Scotland since the end of March. They are not allowed to be included in ward workforce figures by health boards, as they are not considered a core part of the nursing workforce for safe and appropriate staffing.

The figures also include 110 nursing and midwifery staff that transferred from NHS Highland to Highland Council on 1 April and are therefore still in post, but with a different public sector employer.

As a result, the Royal College of Nursing has calculated the true number of nursing and midwifery WTE posts expected to be lost during 2012-13 to be 390, of which 203 have been cut so far.  

RCN Scotland associate director Norman Provan said: “The figures show that the number of nursing staff in post in Scotland is still being cut and is at its lowest point since 2005.

“Health boards need to be clear about how they are going to manage these cuts, invest in community services and still provide a quality health service.”