This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Where to find the missing nurses?

Written by: | Published:

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

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.


The shortage of nurses are inflicted by the nursing profession itself. They have a system of bullying, favouritism and discrimination in place that has existed from time immemorial. Some of these senior nurses they can look at disdain at somebody who is brown, if you happen to get to higher band, all they want is them at the top and they will not provide support as they do to their own. You have to belong to the crowd. No matter how much research is done on the shortage of nurses, the problem lies in the culture and the mentality of the profession and the nurses . I went to work in a hospital in north London. Event with the lack of support and I tried my best to be able to function, but finally failed. I once went to a very senior nurse to ask for advice, she told me to copy her report word by word because her work is considered a piece a genius and that I do to need to "reinvent the wheel.'' though I did find some flaws. The very high senior nurses ignored me completely, do not even respond to my greetings. They did everything to break me down. All my money wasted in courses, in cpd's and now I am jobless.
Posted by: ,
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.
Posted by: ,
start trying to keep the ones who are retiring early ! 100s of years of experience walking out the door 6u3ad
Posted by: ,
HCA level 3 trying to hard to pursue career in nursing
Posted by: ,

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.