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Experienced nurses quitting and 'taking knowledge with them'

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Where will the knowledge come from when they go? Where will the knowledge come from when they go?

Increasing numbers of experienced nurses are quitting because of a ‘perfect storm engulfing the NHS’.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) revealed that the number of nurses with 10 or more years’ experience leaving the profession yearly has doubled since 2013 as their members mount 40 nationwide protests to the continuing government restraint on pay on 27 July.

READ MORE: 'Lethal cocktail' of policies leading to rise in nursing vacancies

An average of 600 RCN members with at least a decade of professional experience now leave each year – twice as many as in 2013/14. The full loss to the NHS and the profession will be higher and display the same trend, according to the RCN.

Data showed 591 RCN members with at least 10 years’ experience quit nursing in the last 12 months compared with 323 in the same period of 2013/14. The year before that (2012/13) saw only 36 senior RCN members quit.

RCN chief executive Janet Davies called on the government to lift the 1% cap on nurses’ yearly pay rises, which has held wages below inflation for seven years. She blamed the cap for staff shortages and increased pressure on workloads.

READ MORE: More sick days taken than ever as nurses 'feel the strain' of budget limitations

‘The best nurses shouldn't be forced to throw in the towel because of staff shortages, relentless pressure and poor pay. This perfect storm is engulfing nursing and the stakes could scarcely be higher,’ she said. ‘When these people leave nursing, they are taking years of knowledge and hands-on experience with them.

‘All four countries of the UK need a plan to retain the years of collective experience and stem these losses. They must commit to safe staffing levels in legislation, invest in health services and lift the pay cap that is cutting salaries in real-terms.’

Ms Davies stressed the importance of experienced nurses working alongside the newly-trained to pass on their knowledge to the next generation before leaving work.

On average, a nurse who has worked for 10 years will earn around £29,000 a year.

READ MORE: More nurses left the NHS than joined up in past year

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘As the Secretary of State [Jeremy Hunt] has made clear, the support and welfare of NHS staff is a top priority as they do a fantastic job – the government is committed to ensuring they can continue to deliver world-class patient care.’

The Department said they have invested in the frontline, putting over 12,500 more nurses on wards since May 2010. They linked changes in the number of nurses throughout the year to the recruitment and training cycles.

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I have been a nurse for 40 yrs and have worked in Primary care for the last 25 yrs. I'm experienced ANP . I'm looking forward to retiring in the next 2 yrs. What is truly scary is looking around at primary care colleagues in citywide meetings and realising that we are all of a similar age with similar plans to leave the profession asap. The pressures have vastly increased in recent years along with the pay cap and no recognition and acknowledgement of the skills and expertise that we have acquired through our many years of working at " the coal face". When nurses inform their managers that they will be leaving/retiring there is no discussion re possible flexible working or better conditions to encourage these nurses to stay. I.e when needing to have flexibility to care for elderly parents etc. There is very little sense of urgency and a lack of imagination when it comes to trying to retain staff that will be sorely missed and difficult to replace once they have left. It is time that people woke up to these facts. I know that this also happens in secondary care and that some of the worst advocates for the support that nurses may need to stay working for longer are the nurse managers themselves!
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I totaly agree, we recently lost a hugely experienced specialist nurse to earlier than early retirement due to the pressures and lack of support in the job. I am a specialist nurse and I will be going at 55 at the latest. I will be happy to find a job that is enjoyable and rewarding rather than, stressful due to financial constraints and lack of support.
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Why is it always about nursing staff in hospitals, no disrespect, but the bulk of the nursing is out in primary care and they are struggling too, and just about at breaking point as lots are off sick burnt out etc. Plus you have a lot of nursing staff now in their fifties, what is going to happen when they leave or retire? Oh yes lots may have to continue working as their occupational pension is minimal (and the rise you get from that each year is pathetic), and they won't get their state pension until they are 66. All in all a vicious circle.
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The government want a private system, as such they will continue to grind us down, I have 25yrs experience & I'm emotionally fatigued, like others I will be going in the next 2 yrs, lm spent.
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It doesn't feel like experience is actually valued anymore - there is nothing to distinguish an experienced band 5 with a newly qualified with regards to AfC, no senior staff posts, no recognition of that experience or clear career pathway. We are effectively trapped at the bottom of the pile if we want to provide excellence in clinical care and not operational duties - the absolute wrong way round, clinical knowledge, excellence and expertise should be rewarded and celebrated.

Pressure to fill vacant posts and the wider implications of this means skill mix isnt (or cant be) taken into account as its bottom line 'bums on seats'. Jobs that once required skill and consolidation of practice are now filled with inexperienced staff. In no way do I use,that term in a derogatory manner - we have all had to learn, we have all been the beginner, we have all developed into the practitioners we are now and that stage is vitally important. But we need those people to go through this in order to provide safe, appropriate, cost effective, compassionate care with the wider system in mind.

Support the inexperienced to become experts, but nuture and reward your existing excellent nurses - they are not easy to come by.
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If we are becoming more of a scarce and precious commodity how come we are still treated like we don't matter and in any other sector experiencing these problems we would be able to name our price for our services never mind a pay cap!!
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