Unfilled nursing and midwifery posts in the health service have increased four-foldĀ since Nicola Sturgeon cut training places as Health Secretary in 2011, new figures highlighted by local MSP Jackie Baillie have shown.

The nursing and midwifery student intake dropped from 3,505 in 2010/11 to 2,713 in 2012/13.

That generation of students is soon to graduate -; with the latest figures showing 2,789 unfilled nursing and midwifery posts in the health service.

That represents a 353 per cent increase in unfilled posts since 2011, when the first round of cuts began and the vacancies have steadily grown every year since.

Staff numbers at the Vale of Leven Hospital have fallen by almost 300 since 2008, including a 28% cut to nursing and midwifery staff.

Speaking in 2012, Nicola Sturgeon announced a cut of around 300 places for the 12/13 academic year Nicola Sturgeon said: “A reduction in intake for the 2012 academic year is a sensible way forward. The intake sets a balance between ensuring the right number of nurses and midwives for the future while also minimising the risk of oversupply and graduate unemployment.”

At the time Jackie raised concerns and the Royal College of Nursing warned: “…all the evidence we’ve gathered shows that this further cut in numbers in 2012-13 risks there not being enough professionally qualified nurses graduating to meet the demand for health services in the future and that this cut will be bad for patient care.”

Labour has set up a Workforce Commission to develop a blueprint to fix the staffing crisis in the health service.

Jackie said:

“When Nicola Sturgeon decided to slash training places for nurses and midwives, she claimed it was a sensible decision.

“Instead that generation of students graduate to a health service that has seen the number of unfilled posts soar every year since.

“The Vale of Leven Hospital has already lost almost 300 members of staff under the SNP and nursing and midwifery staff have borne the brunt of the cuts. If any other local employer had shed so many jobs there would be a national taskforce to rescue them, and cuts to training places will make it even harder to protect our local services.

“Our hospitals simply don’t have enough staff -; and that is a consequence of decisions made by Nicola Sturgeon when she was Health Secretary.

“It was a spectacular error of judgement that has piled the pressure on our hospitals, and let patients down.

“Labour has established a Workforce Commission to develop a blueprint to fix the staffing crisis in our health service

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