Commenting on today’s (Tuesday) Scottish Government report on NHS staffing, Matt McLaughlin, head of health for UNISON Scotland, said:
“UNISON welcomes the publication of the latest NHS Workforce statistics and were not surprised that the government has chosen to focus on the apparent overall increase in NHS workers. The real story, however, lies in the detail of the report with sickness levels climbing; vacancy rates increasing; and a whopping £142m on bank nurses. It’s clear from these figures that despite extra top-line resources, the NHS continues to fail to manage its workforce planning and staffing levels.”
The report indicates that nurse and midwife vacancies have risen by 27% to 2,818.9 and bank costs sitting at a whopping £142m – up 5.5% on last year – while sickness absence is slowly rising at 5.16%.
He added: “UNISON members across our NHS will struggle to believe that staffing levels are at an all-time high. Time and time again they tell us that the daily reality of working in the NHS is one of short staff, reliance on temporary bank staff and increasing stress and anxiety amongst the workforce. Headline increases are of course welcome but are of no real benefit if the service still relies on temporary short-term bank workers.”
Note to editors
You can find the Workforce Statistics Report online at https://beta.gov.scot/news/record-nhs-workforce/
Summary of main points of report reads:
As at 31 March 2017:
• The 162,598 staff employed by NHS Scotland represents an increase of 0.6% over the last year. Adjusting for part-time working, the WTE has risen by 0.7% to 139,430.9. The WTE has risen by 6.3% since March 2012, representing five years of consecutive growth. While the number of staff continues to increase, the annual rate of growth has slowed down in the last two years.
• There were 5,189.2 WTE medical and dental consultants in post, representing an increase of 17.2% (761.5 WTE) over the last five years. While the number of consultants working in NHS Scotland continues to increase, the annual rate of growth has decreased from 4.0% at 31 March 2016 to 1.4% at 31 March 2017.
• 7.4% (415.7 WTE) of consultant posts were vacant. This compares to 6.5% at 31 March 2016. Of these vacancies, 204.3 WTE were vacant for more than six months, an increase of 38.2 WTE.
• There were 59,798.6 WTE nursing and midwifery staff in post, representing an increase of 0.7% in the last year (426.2 WTE). Following a reduction in staff during 2012, the WTE has risen by 5.9% (3,331.3 WTE), representing five years of consecutive growth. While the number of staff continues to increase, the annual rate of growth has slowed down in the last two years.
• Nursing and midwifery vacancies have increased by 27.5% since March 2016 to 2,818.9 WTE. Of these vacancies, 670.6 WTE were vacant for three months or more, an increase of 227.5 WTE since 31 March 2016. The total number of vacancies is the highest ever reported by ISD but this is partly due to improved recording.
• The sickness absence rate for NHS Scotland in 2016/17 was 5.20%, a slight increase from 5.16% 2015/16. Over the last ten years, the national rate has continued to exceed the current national standard of 4%, fluctuating between a low of 4.63% in 2011/12 to a high of 5.55% in 2006/07.
• NHS Scotland spent a total of £166.5 million on nursing and midwifery bank and agency staff during the latest financial year. This represents an increase of £8.4 million (5.3%) in comparison to 2015/16. The majority of this spend was on bank staff (£142 million, an increase of 5.5% on the previous year) with the remaining spend on agency staff (£24.5 million, up 4.4%).