Sturgeon: Safe NHS Staffing Levels Plan

20 June 2016, 07:54

Safe staffing levels in Scotland's NHS are to be enshrined in law, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will tell a nursing conference.

Ms Sturgeon will set out plans for new legislation to reinforce patient safety when she addresses the Royal College of Nursing congress in Glasgow.

She will tell delegates that discussions will begin over the summer with the aim of putting health staffing on a statutory basis.

The First Minister is expected to say: "Since this Government came to power in 2007 there are more than 2,300 extra qualified nurses and midwives working in our NHS.

"In addition to having record staffing levels, Scotland has led the UK in the development of mandatory nursing and midwifery workload and workforce planning tools that help health boards to plan for the number of staff they require.

"By using these tools, health boards can make sure they have the right number of staff to provide the best possible care for patients in a variety of specialities.

"To build on our record, we will enshrine these planning tools in law and examine what other areas of the workforce would benefit from having similar tools developed, which will further strengthen our commitment to patient safety in our wards.''

Chief nursing officer Professor Fiona McQueen said: "The link between safe and sustainable staffing levels - including qualified nurse numbers - and high quality care is well established.

''It's vital to have the right number of staff in place, with the right skills. We already have building blocks in place in Scotland to achieve this, including evidence-based planning tools and enhanced training.''

Scottish Labour welcomed the move.

The party's health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: "This is a worthwhile commitment that we would support, but it has to be backed up by the adequate funding so it can actually be delivered.

''Just one third of our hard-working and dedicated NHS staff think they have enough colleagues to do their job properly.

''Doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and others are under enormous pressure and are increasingly being asked to do more with less.

''The SNP's record on NHS staffing is a poor one. In recent days new official figures confirmed there are the equivalent of 90 fewer GPs in Scotland than there were in previous years.

''Cuts to funding for student nurses when Nicola Sturgeon was health minister are also having an impact on our NHS today.

''Given that NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde alone faces making cuts of £69 million, the SNP Government must ensure this isn't just an attempt to get a good headline.

''We need ministers to take decisions for the long term, so we have a health service fit for the future, delivering for the public and respecting its staff.''