The recession has not yet affected nursing recruitment in Scotland, suggest latest figures.
Nearly 700 more nurses are working in the NHS in Scotland this year than last, according to latest workforce figures published by the Information Services Division of NHS Scotland.
The number of whole time equivalent nursing and midwifery staff in post at 30th September 2009 was 58,429.1, an increase of 679.5 from 30th September 2008.
Meanwhile the number of nursing and midwifery vacancies increased from 1,471.5 on 30th September 2008 to 1476.3 on 30th September 2009.
The figures also showed that 40.4 per cent of all NHS staff in Scotland work in nursing and midwifery. This includes nursing assistants as well as registered nurses.
RCN Scotland associate director Ellen Hudson said: “While the figures – showing that there has been a small increase in the number of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants in post – are good news, this does not mean that the future is rosy.
She added: “Highly experienced, registered nurses make a real difference to patients and to the quality of healthcare services in hospitals and the community. Health boards across Scotland must remember this as they plan their healthcare services and who is going to deliver them in the future.”
“Substituting registered nurses for less well-paid nursing staff may be seen by some health boards as an effective way to reduce financial costs in the short-term, but if patient safety suffers, it is likely to be much more costly to rectify in the future,” she said.