Dame Donna Kinnair, the RCN chief executive, has written to Boris Johnson following his appointment as prime minister, asking him to take urgent action to tackle the nursing workforce crisis across the UK.
This includes creating a for a new law that would make the secretary of state for health and social care accountable for NHS staffing levels in England, following the introduction of similar laws in Wales and Scotland.
‘Never in recent history has a prime minister entered office with pressure so great in health and care services,’ said Dame Donna. ‘A growing number of jobs left unfilled has contributed to a crisis in social care, huge pressure on accident and emergency departments, a health care desert in rural areas and longer waiting lists across the board, from hospitals to GP appointments. It is patients and nursing staff who have to cope with the consequences of these problems. They will be desperate for a signal that things will improve.’
The letter also calls for investment in nursing higher education and continuing professional development (CPD), and outlines how any future immigration system must attract and enable international nursing staff with the right skills to work and remain in health care services.
It also acknowledges the challenges that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will present with more than 10,000 EU nurses and midwives leaving the UK workforce since the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU in 2016.
‘The new prime minister has much to gain in tackling these issues with urgency,’ added Dame Donna. ‘Real investment in nurse education and a new legal duty to deliver safe and effective staffing across health and care settings would pay dividends in terms of improved health outcomes from cancer to childhood obesity, and ultimately a more productive economy.’