The number of people training to be nurses in Scotland has risen for the third successive year.
In 2015-16, 3608 people will begin studying to become a nurse or a midwife, 608 more than the recommended intake of 3000 per year, a three per cent increase from last year. The number of nurses and midwives in Scotland has risen by 4.2 per cent since 2006, with over 1700 more full time staff employed.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: 'The three per cent increase in nursing and midwifery recommended intake refers to recruitment to pre-registration students in adult, mental health, children's nursing, learning disability nursing and midwifery. Primary care-based practice is generally supported through post-registration development. However, each of the five specialities available to pre-registration students will include a focus on community-based care as part of their curricula.'
Shona Robinson, the Scottish secretary for health, wellbeing and sport, said: 'Our commitment to frontline funding for the NHS is clear. We are increasing the NHS budget, despite Westminster cuts, and we are increasing staffing levels. We are not only increasing the numbers of qualified nurses and midwives in our hospitals now, we are also planning for the future.'
The Scottish Government will also provide £450,000 for a return to practice scheme over the next three years, which will encourage former nurses and midwives to return to the profession. The scheme will retrain an estimated 75 former healthcare workers each year.
Commenting on the return to practice scheme, Matt McLaughlin, the lead nursing organiser for UNISON Scotland, said: 'It is important that the investment in training flow through to our wards and communities and that health boards and the Scottish Government continue to prioritise nurse recruitment and retention. Return to practice will help bring some staff back into the profession and that is very welcome.'