Nurse and midwife numbers up by just 280 as thousands quit over job 'pressure'

·2-min read
Nurses and midwives surveyed in Scotland blamed "too much pressure" and the pandemic for their decision to quit
Nurses and midwives surveyed in Scotland blamed "too much pressure" and the pandemic for their decision to quit

THE number of nurses and midwives registered in Scotland has risen by just 280 in the past year.

Scotland experienced the slowest year-on-year increase in the workforce of any part of the UK, amid warnings that staff are quitting due to “too much pressure” and pandemic burnout.

Figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council show that 3,030 Scotland-based nurses and midwives joined the UK’s professional register in 2021/22, taking the total number in Scotland to a record 71,802.

HeraldScotland: Source: NMC
HeraldScotland: Source: NMC

Source: NMC

However, 2,750 nurses and midwives left the register over the same period, an increase on the previous year and equating to a net gain of just 280 staff - or 1.4 per cent.

That compares to an increase of 2.6% in England, 2.7% in Northern Ireland, and 2.2% in Wales.

HeraldScotland: Year-on-year increase in nurses and midwives on permanent register, 2020/21 to 2021/22 (Source: RCN)
HeraldScotland: Year-on-year increase in nurses and midwives on permanent register, 2020/21 to 2021/22 (Source: RCN)

Year-on-year increase in nurses and midwives on permanent register, 2020/21 to 2021/22 (Source: RCN)

Not everyone currently on the register will be employed by the NHS, and the figures for those joining do not include those returning after career breaks.

However, the figures come after NHS Scotland data revealed a 170% increase in nursing and midwifery vacancies between December 2020 and December 2021.

HeraldScotland: Source: NMC
HeraldScotland: Source: NMC

Source: NMC

Matthew McClelland, lead director for Scotland at the NMC, said the rise in people leaving nursing and midwifery “reflects the picture we’re seeing for the UK as a whole, and shows the impact of pressurised environments, challenging workplace cultures, and the pandemic on the workforce”.

HeraldScotland: The vacancy rate for nurses and midwives surged from 3.8% in December 2020 to 9.3% in December 2021
HeraldScotland: The vacancy rate for nurses and midwives surged from 3.8% in December 2020 to 9.3% in December 2021

The vacancy rate for nurses and midwives surged from 3.8% in December 2020 to 9.3% in December 2021

Colin Poolman, director for the Royal College of Nursing Scotland said: “With over 6,000 nursing and midwifery vacancies in the NHS and significant shortages of registered nurses within Scotland’s care homes, more must be done to retain current nursing staff and ensure nursing is attractive, well paid and meaningfully supported.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Staffing is at a record high level following ten consecutive years of growth, with overall staffing up by over 22% since 2006.

"Our national strategy commits to increasing the NHS workforce even further, with 1,800 additional full time posts on top of projected workforce growth requirements.

"There has been an increase in the number of student midwifery places this year and the shortened midwifery course for existing staff is now opening for its second year, which will help deliver safe, effective quality care for women and their families, as well as developing our existing workforce."

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