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'Staff must be valued and listened to when they are at breaking point', says RCM

27 July, 2017

'Staff must be valued and listened to when they are at breaking point', says RCM

NHS Scotland must value its staff and listen when they say they are at breaking point, the RCM has said in response to a report by Audit Scotland

The report said that Scotland’s government and health boards have failed to plan effectively for long-term staffing challenges.

The report by Auditor General Caroline Gardner said ‘it was vital that the government and NHS bosses plan more effectively for the future’.

RCM director for Scotland Mary Ross-Davie said that the Audit Scotland report shone ‘a welcome light on the significant challenges facing the NHS in Scotland’.
 
She said: ‘The RCM fully supports the recommendations that more robust, longer term workforce planning is required to ensure high quality services and that clear long term funding plans should be agreed for implementing policy.’

Mary said that the report highlighted ‘the huge squeeze’ on NHS budgets that meant health boards were expected to make year-on-year savings while demand for services increased.
 
She said that workforce planning was a challenge across NHS Scotland, but particularly in the maternity care. 

‘In Scotland, 41% of midwives are over 50, with many more midwives retiring in the last year than in previous years. HoMs are finding it increasingly difficult to fill vacant midwifery posts as midwives leave, with particular pressures in the north of Scotland and more remote areas,’ said Mary.

The RCM is calling for clear and detailed plans to counteract the drain on midwifery numbers. There needed to be an increased number of training places for midwives and the opportunities for midwives who have left to return to practice.

‘NHS Scotland needs to value its staff and listen when they say they are at breaking point,’ said Mary.

The Audit Scotland report identified that there were ambitious policies for changes in the way healthcare is delivered in Scotland and that appropriate funding is required to ensure successful implementation.
 
The Scottish Government’s radical new maternity strategy for Scotland, published in January 2017, signalled a shift towards more community-based midwifery-led services.
 
Mary said: ‘This shift cannot be made on a shoe string. In order to make it possible for midwives and maternity service leaders to implement the Best Start policy, the Scottish Government will need to commit significant ring fenced funding.  Too often, the needs of maternity services get lost in the huge melting pot of shared funding, having to compete with other much larger sectors in the NHS.’

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