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Critical shortage of nurses in London

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Eight thousand nursing posts are unfilled in London, according to a report by the RCN.

The RCN London Safe Staffing report has identified that there is a severe shortage of nurses working across the NHS in London, through surveying nurses working in London in September.

While only four London trusts cut posts in 2014, nine employ fewer nurses than they did a year ago.

However this is not due to trusts not employing nurses, some trusts are advertising jobs and not being able to find a candidate who can attend an interview.

Bernell Bussue, the regional director of RCN London, say that these results do not make for 'easy reading.'

'The shortage of available, suitably qualified nurses is starting to have knock on effects for the ability of London's NHS to achieve the staffing levels which nursing colleagues desire and to keep providing safe care at the standard patients expect,' Mr Bussue added.

Figures have also found that there is a lack of senior posts with the number of Band 8a positions cut by two per cent.

Many of the respondents said that staff shortages meant that they were increasingly having to work unpaid overtime. Independent Nurse ran a survey, in September, which revealed that over 80 per cent of primary care nurses were working overtime. Forty per cent said that they worked more than three to seven hours overtime a week.

The report gave four recommendations for alleviating these issues. These included: a more strategic approach to long term workforce planning; an end to the ongoing NHS pay freeze; and, to improve pastoral care for nurses coming to work here from overseas.

A particular area of concern was mental health services, which has lost more than 3000 nurses since 2010. The RCN released a special Frontline First report last month highlighting the challenges facing the mental health nursing workforce.

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