On Monday, Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton accused the Scottish Government of a ‘chronically chaotic approach to workforce planning.’ See:
Today, the Independent wrote, based on official figures releases:
‘More than 100,000 NHS posts unfilled, reveal ‘grim’ official figures: Quarterly data released by regulator NHS Improvement today, for the year to December, shows the 234 NHS trusts in England “employ 1.1 million whole-time-equivalent staff but that they have 100,000 vacancies”. Health service bosses are saying the findings are “extremely worrying” and a sign of “astonishingly bad planning”.’
So, compared to 9-10% vacancies in England what are the levels in Scotland? Well there is no global figure but for nursing and midwifery, it’s 4.5% and for consultants, it’s 7.7%.
First, in response, the Scottish Government has increased training of nurses by 3.2% and doctors by 1.9%.
Second, even with the 4.5% shortfall, the number of nurses and midwives per head of population, in NHS Scotland, would still be higher than in NHS England.
How many nurses are there in Scotland? Well, in Nursing, excluding Midwifery, there were 56 468.2 FTE in September 2017.
Here’s NHS England nurse staffing as a comparison. When I saw the figures, I found them to be hard to believe, at first, so I double checked them:
The Kings Fund states:
‘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.
See also, on GP numbers:
Footnote: A few readers seem to think I’m taking pleasure in the crisis in NHS England. I don’t. The ordinary people of England are the first victims of this horrific political administration. I truly regret that. My purpose is, I thought, clear. I wish to defend NHS Scotland and by association the SNP administration from the lying and distorted attacks of the Scottish media and its Unionist party friends. That’s all.