So what is it that we need to do about this? Well, okay, number one is train more staff. That’s clear. But you need to increase both nursing and medical student places. But not just increase the places. Actually look at the cost of studying and the student debt that they will get left with. We don’t have tuition fees in Scotland and our nurses get a £10,000 a year nursing bursary. That means we are investing £20,000 in every student nurse in Scotland.
The minister talked about community pharmacies, which have been providing minor ailment care in Scotland since 2005. Our optometrists are allowed to refer directly to hospital for people who have cataracts. That’s something they’re often made to go through a GP here. So I am sharing and have shared, but there is an increase. There’s a 5.8% increase in uptake in nursing staff in Scotland. So we also have more nurses per head of population.
If you increase medical students, it’s not just that you need to ensure there are places on the ward for them to learn.
you also need to make sure you expand and fund the training places in hospital for after they graduate. There was a real problem last year with extra medical students graduating who couldn’t find foundation jobs until the last minute, and if they don’t go through the foundation scheme, they simply can’t practice as doctors.
Also need to invest in the middle grade, the specialist training to create consultants.
Because that’s what you actually require. We do need to recruit more from overseas because going from student to consultant, depending on what it is or student to GP is nine or 10 years student to consultant surgeon would basically be about 15 or 16. So adding more student places won’t solve this in the short term.