Nearly two-thirds of Scots believe there are not enough nursing staff to provide safe and effective care, according to a new poll.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland survey, carried out on January 25 and 26 by Scotpulse, suggests 73% believe the number of staff employed in the country’s health and care services is too low.
A vast majority (92%) agreed nurses should be guaranteed time for doing training and development while 89% said more should be done to protect their wellbeing.
The union’s poll also returned high figures of those supportive of a pay rise for NHS nursing staff (83%) and those who agreed nurses should be paid more for the work they do (78%).
Respondents said such a pay rise should be one of the top three priorities for Scottish Government spending on health and care in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The other two priorities suggested were tackling the backlog of delayed treatments and reducing waiting times and increasing access to mental health services.
Susan Aitkenhead, RCN Scotland director, said: “Nursing as a profession has been integral to the pandemic response; working under immense pressure, whether in hospitals, out in the community, or looking after vulnerable people in care homes.
“As the focus begins to shift towards recovery and remobilisation, we have set out what needs to be done to meet the health and wellbeing needs of the people of Scotland and to protect the future of nursing.
“It is clear that the public agrees that more needs to be done to value the nursing profession and enable nursing staff to provide the best possible care.
“Our members remain committed to their profession, but action is urgently needed to ensure nursing is attractive, well-paid and meaningfully supported, otherwise we risk many of our members leaving – at a time when the nation needs them more than ever.”
It comes after other union leaders said workers deserved a pay deal that recognises their “sacrifices” during the pandemic, as it was announced more than 150,000 NHS staff are being awarded an interim 1% pay rise.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said the increase, backdated to December 2020, comes amid the “sustained pressure” they have been under with formal negotiations also impacted by the delay to the UK Government Budget.
The RCN is continuing to campaign for a 12.5% pay rise for NHS staff across the UK with Ms Aitkenhead adding: “Scotland’s nursing staff deserve better.
“Our members will be angry and disappointed that the Scottish Government is not willing to do more to value the skills and expertise of the nursing profession.
“They will not understand why they have to wait until the summer for negotiations to commence.
“This is not the substantive pay award our members are looking for and does not recognise their contribution.
“Today’s unexpected announcement has been imposed rather than negotiated and we would ask Scottish Government to honour its commitment and enter into meaningful negotiations now.”