Scotland is to see the number of training places for nurses and midwives increase by 360, it was announced today.
The devolved government is to fund an increase of 10.8% in the number degree programmes for nurses and midwives. The health secretary, Shona Robison said the move would see the number of students entering the professions rise from 3360 to 3724.
Making the announcement while on a visit to Erskine Care Home to visit students on placement, she said: ‘This 10.8% increase - the sixth increase in a row - is just one step to sustain that into the future, ensuring we recruit and retain the next generation of staff.
‘We have retained bursaries and free tuition for nursing and midwifery students.
‘We intend to extend and increase successful initiatives, which bring former nurses and midwives back into practice. And we are improving access to education and careers in the professions.’
Responding to the news, Mary Ross-Davie, The Royal College of Midwives (RCM’s) Director for Scotland, said the RCM welcomed the response by the Scottish government, which she said would go some way in addressing current workforce issues.
‘This increase in student numbers, along with the commitment to sustaining and supporting return to practice programmes, the continued provision of bursary support for student midwives and the planned ongoing work in relation to widening access and routes into a midwifery career, are a positive response to the growing midwifery workforce issues across Scotland.’
She added that this ‘significant increase’ in student places is needed in order to ‘respond to the growing gap’ between midwives entering and leaving the profession in Scotland.
‘Over 40 percent of midwives in Scotland are now over the age of fifty and we are seeing a rapid rise in the number of retirals. We are also seeing younger midwives leaving midwifery, attracted by lower caseloads in other healthcare professions and, in some cases, better pay.’
Shona Robison said: ‘we are investing in the future of the NHS and are on track to deliver record numbers in training, ensuring we have the right staff, with the right skills, in the right place.’
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland associate director, Ellen Hudson, called the announcement a ‘move in the right direction’
‘We are pleased that the Scottish government has listened to our concerns and has recognised that in recent years Scotland has simply not been training enough nurses.’