Latest NHS workforce statistics

Rise in number of nurses and consultants under this Government.

Staffing has increased in Scotland’s NHS in the last year, figures published today show.

The figures, released by ISD Scotland, show that under this Government the NHS Scotland workforce, excluding GPs and dentists, has increased by almost 9%, with over 11,000 more whole time equivalent (WTE) staff.

There are now 161,329 people employed by the NHS in Scotland – an increase of 0.4% since June 2015. This continues the steady annual upward trend in the NHS workforce which began in June 2012.

The number of medical staff in post was 12,041.1 whole time equivalent (WTE) an increase of 2.1% since June 2015 – and 25.4% higher than September 2006.

Consultant1 numbers have increased by 3.5%, 178.0 WTE, in the last year, and are up 43.1% under this Government. Vacancy rates for consultants were down on last year, with 7.5% of posts vacant, down from 8.3%.

In addition, the number of nursing and midwifery staff in post at June 2016 was 59,188.7 WTE, an increase of 115.1 WTE, 0.2%, compared to the last year.

Health Secretary Shona Robison welcomed the continued rise in staffing, and reinforced this Government’s commitment to working with health boards to reduce long-term vacancies.

Ms Robison said:

“Under this Government, NHS staff numbers have risen significantly, with more consultants, nurses and midwives now delivering care for the people of Scotland.

“This demonstrates that, to give people the high quality health care they deserve, we are investing in and supporting a highly skilled NHS Scotland workforce.

“As we increase the workforce we expect to see vacancy levels fluctuate given the natural turnover of staff in an organisation of this size. Fluctuations are also caused by increased number of posts available. However, we are committed to working with health boards to help them minimise long-term vacancies.

“In addition to having record staffing levels, Scotland is leading the UK in developing mandatory nursing and midwifery workload and workforce planning tools that help health boards to plan for the number of staff they require, ensuring the best possible care for patients.

“We have also shown our commitment to the NHS of the future by increasing pre-registration student nursing and midwifery intakes for 2016-17 by 5.6% - the fourth successive intake rise – and through our investment of £450,000 over the next three years to reintroduce a national return to practice scheme for nurses and midwives.

"We know our NHS faces many pressures and is treating more patients, with more complex illnesses, than ever before. Despite these pressures, the fantastic staff working in the NHS continue to deliver high quality care.”

Notes to editors

Full access to the statistical publication can be accessed on the ISD Scotland website:

1The staff in post figure for number of consultants includes consultant-grade directors.


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