Newly qualified nurses and midwives will be mentored by recently retired NHS staff, under a pilot scheme due to launch in Scotland next year.
The programme, which will focus on midwifery, health visiting, district nursing and advanced practice, will see up to 100 retired nurses train as “professional practice advisers”, in order to share their knowledge and experience with new NHS recruits.
“We need to look at ways we can effectively help our newly qualified nurses and midwives”
Government ministers said the scheme supported a £40m commitment to boost the nursing and midwifery workforce in Scotland, including creating an extra 2,600 posts.
“To support our plans to significantly grow the NHS workforce, we need to look at ways we can effectively help our newly qualified nurses and midwives to reach their full potential,” said Scotland’s health secretary Jeane Freeman.
“We also have a number of nursing and midwifery staff who have recently retired, but want to continue to provide service and support to newly qualified nurses and midwives,” she said.
Ms Freeman said the pilot programme was one of the ways that could be used to help retain the skills of experienced staff.
“Experienced, retired staff have a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience, and, more importantly, confidence in using these abilities,” she said.
She added: “We don’t want valuable experience to be lost and this pilot is an excellent way to explore how we can use the knowledge of retired staff to support recently qualified employees.”
The programme is among a number of measures the Scottish government is already taking in bid to expand the nursing workforce.
This includes a commitment to retain bursaries and free tuition for nursing and midwifery students, which have been scrapped in England.
In addition, in January it announced an increase in student intakes for 2018-19 by 10.8% – an extra 364 places.
- Further rise in nurse and midwife student places for Scotland
- Bursary ‘protected’ for Scottish student nurses in 2017-18
- Pledge to keep bursary in Scotland and boost ANPs
The Scottish government has also pledged £5m over three years for wider measures, including retraining former nurses and midwives and promoting nursing careers.
Other steps include funding for 500 advanced nurse practitioners and 500 extra health visitors by the end of 2021, and the introduction of Best Start – a five-year plan to maternity and neonatal services, which recognises the key role of midwives.
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However, despite such efforts, latest figures published in August by the Scottish government show the number of nursing and midwifery staff is projected to increase by less than 0.01% in 2018-19 – the equivalent of just 19.1 full-time roles across the country.
The figures, provided by NHS boards and national bodies to help inform workforce plans, will see nursing and midwifery numbers drop in some areas, while others are predicting a slight increase by March next year. Overall, nursing numbers will remain just under 60,000 whole-time equivalents.