Today, the Heralds told us:
‘New figures show that 1,609 Scots-qualified nurses trained north of the Border have filled in verification requests from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) – which enables them to practise in other countries – over the past five years. It comes as vacancy rates for nurses and midwives reached a record high last year and left wards across the country struggling to plug the gaps.’
So that’s just, on average, 323 nurses per year and no evidence of how many actually left or of wards struggling to plug the gaps, actually offered.
How many nurses are there in Scotland? Well, in Nursing, excluding Midwifery, there were 56 468.2 FTE in September 2017 with 0.58%. thinking of leaving in any one year. You’ll recognise the basic propagandist technique of using the larger five-year figure rather than the more informative one-year figure.
I suppose if NHS Scotland is very tightly stretched in terms of nurse staffing, even a small number would matter. As I did yesterday with teacher numbers let’s have a look at NHS England nurse staffing as a comparison.
When I saw the figures, I found them hard to believe at first so I double checked them:
The Kings Fund state:
‘The number of nursing staff (nurses and health visitors) has increased by 1.8 per cent from 281,064 FTEs in 2010 to 286 020 FTEs in 2017.’
I checked again with the UK Government site to find confirmation:
‘There were 314,966 Nurses & health visitors, an increase of 2,790 (0.9%) since 2014. There were 281,474 FTE Nurses & health visitors, an increase of 2,494 (0.9%) since 2014.
Can you see why I doubted the figures? They suggest that Scotland with only 10% of England’s population has 19% of the number of nurses or nearly twice as many per head of population. Now, I know we have more remote and underpopulated areas where you would expect to need more teachers, GPs or nurses, per head of population but that still looks like a very big difference which could, of course, be a factor in NHS Scotland’s superior performance.
Also, the number of nurses in Scotland is increasing. See this table:
That’s a 5.6% increase in only 4 years, in Scotland, as opposed to only a 1.8% increase over 7 years in England.
I stand ready to be corrected but I’ve searched and searched and can find no different figures or any reasons to question the ones I have.