Scotland's first minister urged to tackle health crisis
Scottish flag waving in the breeze on a flagpole.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called for Scotland's new first minister John Swinney to improve the workplace crisis in health and social care in the country.

In a letter to Swinney, they highlighted the "damaging impact" of nursing vacancies on the safety and quality of patient care, as well as on the wellbeing of staff who are already working extra unpaid hours to cover gaps and going home feeling that they are unable to provide the quality of care they want.

They also called for urgent action to retain experienced staff and ensure that nursing is an attractive career. 

Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland executive director, said: “Nurses and nursing support workers across Scotland are under pressure, under-staffed and many are at breaking point.

"The current pressures and staff shortages have resulted in unsafe conditions being normalised, including the unacceptable practice of treating patients in inappropriate places such as corridors, waiting rooms and store cupboards.

“While it is welcome that the Scottish government has committed to implementing the recommendations from the Agenda for Change Review, Ministers must now move swiftly to open negotiations for the 2024-25 pay award.

"The joint health trade unions submitted our claim in February. Our members deserve to receive an increase that reflects current living costs and addresses the historic erosion of their pay as soon as possible given we are now over a month into the new financial year.

“The Ministerial Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce has been progressing, listening to nursing and midwifery staff, and developing recommendations to address the nursing workforce crisis and demonstrate that our safety critical profession is valued. 

"We cannot afford for this essential work to be delayed and look forward to working with the Cabinet Secretary to ensure the Taskforce delivers meaningful and sustainable change.”