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Unions hail rise in students starting Scottish nurse degrees

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The number of student nurses and midwives entering degree programmes funded by the Scottish Government this year is to increase by around 170.

A total of 2,698 students will begin their training in October this year, which is a 6.6% increase on the 2013-14 figure of 2,530, the Scottish government said in a statement.

Of these, adult nursing student places will increase by 5%, from 1,727 to 1,813.

Meanwhile, the number of student midwives beginning training will increase from 140 to 160 – a 14.3% increase – and the number of new children’s nursing students will increase from 203 to 245, which is a 20.7% increase.

Health secretary Alex Neil said: “This decision is based on careful strategic planning, using information from NHS board workforce planning projections, evidence from Scotland’s groundbreaking nursing and midwifery workload and workforce planning tools, and working closely with key stakeholder groups.”

Unions contributed to the process of setting the 2014-15 student intake for nursing and midwifery.

Unison lead organiser for nursing in Scotland, Matt McLaughlin, said his union had been working with NHS boards and the government on a range of projects that identified Scotland “needs to train more nurses and midwives in 2014”.

“We are pleased that the Scottish government have listened,” he said.

Gillian Smith, director of the Royal College of Midwives Scotland, said she was “encouraged” that ministers had increased the student midwife intake this year again.

“It takes three years to train a midwife and therefore the students we put in to the system just now will be ready for practice by 2017-18,” she said.

“This is when we expect to see a large number of midwives retiring based on the current age profile of those in practice at present,” she added.

Professor Brian Webster, from the Council of Deans of Health, said: “We welcome this increase in new undergraduate nursing and midwifery students in Scotland.

“However, finding suitable practice placements for all our students can already be difficult, so we need to see adequate resources made available to support this,” he added. 

“This need not just be an increase in the number of placements in the NHS, but also looking at how we might better access other providers such as charities and the private sector,” he said. “Given that students can spend approximately 505 days of their learning in practice a clear strategy will be needed to cater for this increase.”


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