On Good Morning Scotland on 27th September, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Alex Neil, said: ‘..over the last five years since we came in, there has been an increase of 4,000 in the number of nurses and midwives in Scotland. Now I do agree that in the last few months there has been a decrease…’
Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jackie Baillie MSP, also responsible for the Helensburgh and Lomond electorate, says that the real figures show that nursing and midwifery levels are the lowest since 2005 and the Royal College of Nursing agrees. Nurses numbers began to fall in 2009.
She says: ‘Alex Neil has no shame. On the day that he goes to speak to health workers, he simply makes up numbers and pulls them out of the air.
‘He insults the thousands of staff who are taking on more work, covering more patients and working longer to simply dismiss the reality.
‘I know Alex Neil likes to talk himself and the government up, but rather than do lots of talking, perhaps he needs to start by reading his brief and understanding what is actually happening in hospitals up and down the country.’
The facts – below – appear to bear out what Jackie Baillie is saying.
Number of nurses and midwives in Scotland
- 2005: 55,434
- 2006: 56,783
- 2007: 57,050
- 2008: 57,749
- 2009: 58,428
- 2010: 57,878
- 2011: 56,263
- Levels at June 2012: 56,021
- Cuts since 2009: 2,407
Jackie Baillie says: ‘The SNP has started to use nursing and midwifery interns to artificially boost staffing figures since 2011.
‘The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that the inclusion of interns in the staffing figures meant the statistics were “not a true reflection of the nursing workforce’.
Royal College of Nursing Scotland’s Associate Director, Norman Provan says of the latest staffing figures : ‘Today’s figures show that the number of nursing staff in post in Scotland is still being cut and is at its lowest point since 2005.
‘The decline in nursing numbers hasn’t just occurred over the last few months it started in 2009. The SNP has cut more than 5,500 staff, almost 2,500 of them are nurses and midwives since 2009.’
Mr Neil is clearly busking his way into his new job. He will find this an unrewarding tactic with the well informed and incisive Jackie Baillie in Labour’s shadow role on Health.