More NHS staff than ever before

Number of nurses and consultants caring for Scotland increases.

The number of staff working in Scotland’s NHS has risen to a record high, figures published today show.

The figures, released by ISD Scotland, show that since September 2006 the NHS Scotland workforce, excluding GPs and dentists, has increased by 9.0%, with almost 11,400 more whole time equivalent (WTE) staff.

There are now 161,656 people employed by the NHS in Scotland, with 99.6% of all care delivered by staff on NHS contracts.

The number of consultants1 is at a record high, with 5,195.0 WTE in place –an increase of 3.9% when compared to March 2015.

Consultant vacancy rates have decreased over the past year, dropping from 7.7% in March 2015 to 6.5% in March 2016.

Since September 2006, NHS Scotland nursing and midwifery staff have increased by 4.6%, bringing the total number of WTE posts to 59,372.4.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Under this Government, NHS staff numbers have risen significantly, with more consultants, nurses and midwives and allied health professionals 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.

“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.

“The use of agency nursing and midwifery staff spend on agency nurses has fallen since 2006 and the £23.5 million spent in 2015/16 is down by 11.3% from £26.47 million in 2005/06. Agency use for 2015/16 equates to 0.4% of overall staffing numbers.

“However, we know more needs to be done and earlier this year we launched a new initiative, in partnership with NHS National Services Scotland, to drive down the cost and use of all temporary agency staff.

"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 figure for number of consultants includes consultant-grade directors.

Pre-registration student nursing and midwifery intakes for 2016/17 will increase by 5.6% – a fourth successive rise.

The Scottish Government has also provided £450,000 in funding over the next three years to reintroduce a national return to practice scheme. The scheme is well underway and has already attracted more than 160 former nurses and midwives who wish to get back into the profession.


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