Scottish Government
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Nursing staffing levels

A workload measurement and planning tool to determine appropriate nursing levels is being rolled out for community nurses.

Health Secretary Alex Neil today announced that the workload and workforce planning tool for community nursing will be available to all health boards from May this year.

It has been designed to ensure that communities have the right numbers and mix of nursing staff.

The announcement coincides with NHS Scotland workforce figures released today, which show that the total number of qualified nursing and midwifery staff in post increased by 1.8 per cent (728.2 WTE) from 41,026.2 whole time equivalent (WTE) on 30 September 2006 to 41,745.4 on 31 December 2012.

The figures also show that the total number of staff in post across the NHS in Scotland increased by 0.5 per cent (696.3 WTE) from 131,845.2 WTE on 30 September 2012 to 132,541.5 on 31 December 2012.

Community-based nursing and midwifery staff have increased by 20.6 per cent (1,691.1 WTE) from 8,198.7 WTE on 30 September 2006 to 9,889.8 WTE on 31 December 2012.

Speaking to a delegation of nurses at the Nursing in Practice conference today (Tuesday), Mr Neil said:

"I am pleased to announce that from May this year, a workload tool will be rolled out to community nursing across Scotland.

"More people are being treated in the community and hospital stays are shorter than ever so the shape and size of the NHS workforce is changing. I want to make sure that the right mix and numbers of staff are working in our communities to provide quality care to our patients.

“The community nursing workload assessment tool has been developed in partnership with community practitioners –  district nurses, public health nurses, health visitors and school nurses – to ensure it reflects the needs of community working.

"In addition, the latest NHS workforce figures show an increase in the number of nurses and midwives working across Scotland, and it is vital we continue to be led by in-depth planning to make sure the right numbers of the right staff group are working in the right place."

Evidence based tools, which are used in conjunction with professional judgement and local care standards, are already mandatory in all health board areas for hospital care.

The tool looks at the number of patients, the complexity of the care provided by community nurses, time required for and mode of travel, and also factors in additional time for unexpected disruptions, or tasks such as administration.  

It then calculates the number of staff required to provide safe, effective and person centred care to the patients.

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