The Scottish government has pledged to invest £3million into recruiting 500 more advanced nurse practitioners.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon stated that the Scottish government would make this commitment as advanced nurse practitioners are ‘hugely important’.
‘They already work closely with GPs, district nurses and other healthcare professionals. They potentially have an even bigger role to play in assessing, treating and diagnosing people in the community – during the day and out of hours. By doing so, they can help to provide better primary care for individuals and tackle delayed discharge rates,’ she said.
Theresa Fyffe, the director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland, welcomed the funding for advanced nurse practitioners. ‘We have long campaigned for a structured development path for these highly skilled nurses, so investment in the skills and development of future advanced nurse practitioners is a step in the right direction.’
The £3million comes as part of a £27million funding increase for the Scottish NHS. Some of the money will also go towards retaining the NHS bursary for student nurses and midwives. ‘We recognise the demands on those students, and we understand the importance of their role,’ said Ms Sturgeon.
The Scottish government will also develop a £1million hardship fund for student nurses and midwives.
The aim of this funding boost is to attract a wider pool of recruits regardless of their background into the NHS in Scotland. Figures from the Scottish Government’s Information Services Division from December 2015 showed that there were 2400 nursing vacancies and that 500 of these had been unfilled for more than three months. Ms Fyffe had referred to these figures as ‘deeply worrying’.
Ms Sturgeon also said that the first National Clinical Strategy for Scotland would be published in due course setting out in detail how the NHS in Scotland will deliver a health and care service for the population of Scotland in the coming years.