The health service in Scotland will use a planning tool to make sure there are the right numbers of community nurses, each with a manageable workload.
The Scottish government’s health secretary Alex Neil revealed on Wednesday that the tool to help make sure communities are served by the right number of nurses will be available to use in three months.
The news came as official figures showed the number of qualified staff working in nursing and midwifery has risen in Scotland. On December 31 last year there was the equivalent of 41,745 full-time members of nursing and midwifery staff, 1.8% more than on September 30, 2006, when the figure was 41,026.
The biggest increase has been in the number of nursing staff based in the community, which has gone up by a fifth. In September 2006 there were 8,198.7 whole-time equivalent (WTE), which rose by 20.6% to 9,889.8 by the end of last year.
There has also been a 0.5% increase in the number of people working for the NHS in Scotland in general. In September 2006 there were 131,845.2 WTE staff in post but by 31 December 2012 this had risen to 132,541.5.
Mr Neil told the Nursing in Practice conference on Tuesday: “I am pleased to announce that from May this year, a workload tool will be rolled out to community nursing across Scotland.
“More people are being treated in the community and hospital stays are shorter than ever so the shape and size of the NHS workforce is changing. I want to make sure that the right mix and numbers of staff are working in our communities to provide quality care to our patients.
“The community nursing workload assessment tool has been developed in partnership with community practitioners - district nurses, public health nurses, health visitors and school nurses - to ensure it reflects the needs of community working.
“In addition, the latest NHS workforce figures show an increase in the number of nurses and midwives working across Scotland, and it is vital we continue to be led by in-depth planning to make sure the right numbers of the right staff group are working in the right place.”