New taskforce set up to improve working conditions for nurses and midwives

A new expert group has been set up to improve working conditions for nurses and midwives.

Chaired by Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, the Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce will develop plans for retaining the existing workforce, as well as looking at recruitment.

It will include recognised nursing and midwifery workforce experts, alongside academics and representatives from the NHS and the Scottish Government, while the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Royal College of Midwives will also be represented.

It comes after NHS workers in Scotland were offered a record pay deal, with an average 6.5% increase in pay, as part of a £568 million offer to unions for 2023-24.

The RCN has recommended its members vote to accept the new pay deal but warned that if its members vote against it, the union will look to announce strike dates as its mandate for strike action still stands.

Mr Yousaf (pictured) said: “Our nursing and midwifery staff have repeatedly shown their commitment to the NHS and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude, particularly for their efforts during the pandemic.”

He said the new taskforce “will help ensure that Scotland’s nurses and midwives are not only the best paid in the UK, but they have the best conditions and career opportunities as well”.

The taskforce will also consider issues including how to build “exemplary workforce cultures” and how to improve facilities and learning opportunities.

The RCN Scotland welcomed the creation of the taskforce, with its director Colin Poolman saying it “demonstrates that the voice of nursing is being heard”.

Julie Lamberth, chairwoman of the RCN Scotland board, said: “For too long our concerns about the future of our profession have been ignored. Our mandate for strike action has forced the Scottish Government to sit up and listen.

“Nursing can be the most rewarding and fulfilling career, but I’ve seen too many of my colleagues turn their back on the profession.

“This taskforce presents the opportunity to address the workforce crisis, to support existing experienced nurses to stay and to make nursing a career of choice once again.”

Scotland’s Chief Midwifery Officer Justine Craig also welcomed the initiative.

She said: “We look forward to working with the Cabinet Secretary and other members in driving forward the ambition to build a sustainable and skilled nursing and midwifery workforce of the future; to create attractive and rewarding careers and fundamentally to allow them to deliver care to the standards to which they aspire.”

Chief Nursing Officer Professor Alex McMahon said: “The taskforce brings the opportunity to develop a plan that will support both professions in Scotland as we consider how to improve working conditions for nurses and boost workforce numbers.”

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