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Where to find the missing nurses?

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There is a threat to the NHS and that is bad workforce planning

My two pet hate sentiments about the NHS come from different sides of the political spectrum. One is from the right: a faux concern that the service is unaffordable, where by international standards of health care, it’s pretty cheap, and certainly a far smaller portion of gross national product than a private system. The other is from the left, which claims the NHS is in danger of privatisation. It’s a seductive view, if you have no idea of the structures of the NHS, or how unattractive a proposition this is for the private sector. But it drives me bananas.

Why? Because there is a threat to the NHS, that doesn’t fit into a clear ideological box, and that is bad workforce planning, and it’s coming home to roost. Figures from NHS Improvement, reveal staff shortages across the board, but it’s the ones in nursing that are particularly stark. Almost one in eight posts is currently vacant: England is currently short of 42,000 nurses.

The causes aren’t too tough to see: eight years of austerity which have cut nurses’ salaries in real terms have caused many to leave the profession; the nativist urges of Brexit which have cut off the supply of EU nurses; and the scrapping of the student bursary which has attached a hefty cost to training.

But what is to be done? I’m starting to think the answer is in the less specialist and quicker routes of apprenticeships, and associate posts. ICUs may require the clinical skill of a graduate, but the expanding area of elderly care doesn’t, why not start a new generation of nurses here, with the option to work up?

Oh, and a pay rise wouldn’t hurt, but you knew that already.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

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Comments

The only answer to Nurse Shortages is to allow them to train for FREE, then insist they work 5yrs in the NHS as a repayment to the system.
I would Never have become a nurse if I had to pay a bursary to train me in the 1970's, nurses came from abroad, trained for free & stayed as nurses most of their lives.
Pay nurses properly, everyone knows they are her just slave labour & always will be.
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start trying to keep the ones who are retiring early ! 100s of years of experience walking out the door 6u3ad
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HCA level 3 trying to hard to pursue career in nursing
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