A Scottish nursing union is calling for urgent action to stop nurses who are “at breaking point” from fleeing the profession.

Royal College of Nursing Scotland said the nursing workforce crisis is showing little sign of improvement after publishing the third instalment of The Nursing Workforce in Scotland report.

In the year up to December 2023, NHS Scotland figures showed the number of nurses rose from 61,567 whole time equivalent (WTE) staff to 63,605.

But vacancies in the field still remain high, with 3,961.8 WTE posts still unfilled as of the end of last year – a drop from the peak of more than 6,500 in December 2021, but still higher than before the pandemic.

For the second year in a row, the report focuses on the the importance of the Nursing Midwifery Taskforce and the need for a fully-funded nursing retention strategy.

They say that the Scottish Government “must” develop and implement a fully-funded nursing retention strategy that addresses wellbeing, workplace culture, development opportunities, flexible working and career progression.

They add that the government should establish an implementation board to ensure the changes are delivered by the end of this year.

The RCN recommended ten areas of concern including fair pay, good employment terms and conditions as well as the evaluation of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019, including an annual parliamentary debate on safe staffing.

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