ACROSS Scotland this wik thoosands o fowk are gaun tae begin their journey through higher education, an ower 3000 o them are gaun intae a subject area fit will, in time, lead tae them makin an invaluable impact on an uncoontable nummer o lives. Mony nursin students will stairt their studies in the north-east, at The Robert Gordon Varsity, as weel as in Dundee, Stirlin, Embra, an Glesgae. The next three ‘ear may be aa planned oot for the medical professionals tae be, but fit isnae sae clear is the future that faces them, an fit cams aifter completin their degrees, an enterin intae the warld o wark.

Ye canna help but wunner foo full o howp an optimism these buddin prodigies can be, considering the current state o oor NHS. Wi the nurse vacancy level in Scotland sittin at aboot 30%, it’s nae hard tae see that currently employed nurses are bein run ragged, an left unable tae cope wi the warkload.

The NHS Scotland iMatter survey also fund that twa thirds o nurses fa responded didna think that aire was enough o them tae provide safe an effective care. Tae put things intae perspective, ye hiv tae mynd that these arnae jist figures an statistics, but human lives that are bein put under immense pressure, an at risk.

Currently things are sae bad that nurses hiv e’en been kent tae gie up their positions tae tak on jobs wi littler pye packets, an in turn littler amoonts o stress. Nurses arnae jist leavin for that reason alain though.

Oor aging population is gaun tae cause the Scottish NHS incredible problems in nae ower lang. Wi the nummer o nurses in Scotland fa are aged 55 an upwards edging taewart 20%, in the next five tae ten ‘ear, a big skelp o nurses are gaun tae retire. As the population gets aulder, the need for nurses providin care is gaun tae dae naething but rise.

Suin the reality is gaun tae be that the gap atween the nurses that oor NHS needs, an the nurses that oor NHS actually hiv, is utterly unmanageable. Oor nursin industry is desperate for fresh bluid tae be pumped intil it, but ‘at fresh bluid is gaun tae dry oot if things dinna start tae get better. It really is a catch twinty-twa; we need tae encourage fowk tae pursue a career in the field, fit is far fae easy fan we canna e’en keep the nurses we’ve got.

Nurses fa hiv cam fae EU kintras are unquestionably valuable tae NHS Scotland, makin it impossible tae ignore the consequences that Brexit has already hane, an is yet tae hae on the NHS, an the issue o Scotland’s nurses. It’s understaundable, wi aa o the xenophopic slur that has been spewed since the decision tae leave the EU, an uncertainty surroundin EU citizens’ richts tae bide here ance Brexit has tane effect next ‘ear, that nurses nae langer want tae cam an wark in Scotland. Recent figures fae the Nursing and Midwifery Council show that in 2016/17, 6382 nurses cam tae wark in the UK as a hale.

In 2017/18 that feegur drappit tae 805. A tragic decrease o 87% in jist a ‘ear. Aire’s plenty opportunities in ither kintras in Europe for nurses fae EU kintras tae gaung an mak a difference whiles prosperin. Fit why should EU nurses want tae cam an wark here? But, the problem isnae solely that new nurses arnae camin fae the EU onymair, fit’s arguably worse is that EU nurses fa are aaready employed here in Scotland are leaving the kintra tae find wark elsewhere. Wi an aging population, an affa lot o nurses due for retirement in the next few ‘ear, an noo Brexit causing mony a nurse fae the EU tae jump ship, in the comin ‘ears, the hail thing is due tae sink.

Ither than puttin a complete halt tae Brexit, fit disnae seem likely tae happen, is aire anither wye tae deal wi this crisis? Aire’s a’ready been measures tane tae cam up wi a solution, as the 2018/19 intake o nursin students was 10.8% higher than the previous ‘ear, makin the total nummer o spaces for new nursin students in Scotland 3724.

Fit mony fowk dinna ken is that nursin students receive a bursary worth muckle mair than the bursary that maist students receive, tae compensate for the fact that studying nursin requires an affa lot mair time an sacrifice than maist subject areas. In 2018/19, aa nursin students are entitled tae a £6578 bursary, as weel as additional support for single parents an disabled students.

Compared tae the £1875 bursary that some ither students get, dependin on their parents income, the nursin student bursary is a great incentive for them fa are willing tae dedicate mair time tae their studies an placements, an less time tae part-time or summer jobs. Mebbe it wad be wise tae mak this bursary better kent tae potential nursin students, tae eradicate ony money worries that they micht hae, an tae encourage them tae gaung forrit. Aiblins aire needs tae be mair pennies put on the table, tae tice mair young fowk intae the field. On the ither haund, aire’s aye the risk that the bursary wad appeal tae the wrang kyne o fowk, fa wad only be interestit in the siller, an nae the job at haund. As mentionit abuin, the Scots government hiv investit mair money intae creatin mair spaces at varsities, but considerin the NHS is lossin nurses at the rate o noughts, mebbe it’s still nae enough. Anely time will tell.

Naebody kens fit the future hauds for oor NHS, or for the nursin students fae aa ower fa will begin their studies this wik. Ah tak ma hat aff tae them, wish them aa the best, an howp, for the rest o the population’s sake, asweel as theirs, that the situation improves, an suin. If things dinnae keep gaun tae pot, aire micht be new life in oor auld NHS yet.