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Call for action to prevent mass exodus of nurses

4 December 2008

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The NHS community sector in Scotland could face a shortage of nurses if action is not taken to retain the skills and experience of those aged over 50, a nursing organisation has warned.

The Scottish government has been urged by the Royal College of Nursing Scotland (RCN) to take action to keep older nurses in the workforce as increasing numbers approach retirement age.

The NHS retirement age for most nurses is between 60 and 65, but an RCN report has revealed that “significant numbers” are over the age of 50 and approaching the age when they might consider retiring or reducing their working hours.

One in three nurses working in the NHS community sector, such as health visitors, school nurses and district nurses, is aged 50 or over. And three out of ten community nurses will reach retirement age within the next ten years as they are more likely to be able to retire at 55.

RCN Scotland’s director, Theresa Fyffe, said: “Research shows that over three quarters of nurses would consider delaying their retirement, depending on the circumstances.

“However, there is not enough information about what measures employers could take to encourage nurses to stay in the workforce longer.

“If we are to prevent a skills shortage in the future, work must begin now to address this and help retain the skills of older nurses.”

Copyright © Press Association 2008

RCN Scotland