NHS staffing in Scotland is at a record high, with increases in the past year being achieved largely by gains in extra nurses, official figures have revealed.
Data shows NHS Scotland had 1,043 whole-time equivalent (WTE) extra staff in September compared to the year before, representing a 0.8% increase.
Of these extra workers, around half – 525 – were nurses. However, the number of WTE midwives decreased by eight.
Overall, NHS Scotland now has 137,727 WTE staff, which is an increase of 10,600 workers since 2006, marking a record high.
”Under this government, NHS staff numbers have risen significantly, with more consultants, nurses and midwives now delivering care for the people of Scotland”
Nurses and midwives make up 43% of all WTE staff, according to the Information Services Division (ISD) of NHS Scotland, which provides data on workforce.
The latest data shows there are 58,923 WTE nurses and midwives, a 4.6% increase since September 2011 when there were 56,309.
Numbers of nurses and midwives have also been increasing within the NHS in England, but at a slower rate.
Over the same period, WTE numbers in England increased from 306,346 in September 2011 to 314,730 in August this year, a boost of nearly 3% according to the latest data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Scotland’s health secretary Shona 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.
“To give people the high quality health care they deserve, we are investing in and supporting a highly skilled NHS Scotland workforce.”
She added: “The recent rise in nursing and midwifery vacancies is due to the creation of new posts in health boards, mainly as a result of information from workload and workforce planning tools.
“Several health boards have received additional investment to increase their nursing numbers and are in the process of recruiting these additional nurses. Additional posts have also been created across health boards to deal with winter pressures,” she said.