The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Scotland has issued a warning that the NHS will face extreme pressures this winter, as nurse vacancies in the country remain “stubbornly high”.

The warnings follow data released this week by NHS Education for Scotland, which gave a snapshot of nursing and midwifery workforce numbers in the country.

The dataset revealed that, as of 30 June 2023, the NHS in Scotland employed 181,455 staff by headcount or 156,215 whole-time equivalent (WTE) staff.

This figure represents a 0.7% increase in staff compared to the prior year and a 12% increase compared to five years ago.

The data also showed that there were 64,310 WTE nurses and midwives working in the NHS in Scotland – a 0.2% increase over the last year.

However, there were still a high number of nursing and midwifery vacancies in the Scottish NHS, with 5,616 WTE unfilled posts.

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