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Minister 'pleased' at rise in size of nursing workforce

A recent surge in new NHS posts for nursing and other frontline roles has been welcomed by health minister Dan Poulter as the “right thing to do” in response to the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

However, he said recruitment drives should not distract trusts from reducing what the government views as wasteful procurement practices and overuse of agency staff.

“I’m pleased workforce numbers have risen,” Dr Poulter said. “I think there will be over the next few months – quite rightly – an on-going reaction in some trusts to addressing the challenges thrown up by Mid Staffs.”

“I’m pleased workforce numbers have risen”

Dan Poulter

According to Health and Social Care Information Centre, NHS hospitals were employing around 2,400 more registered nurses on acute, elderly and general wards in October 2013 than they were when the Francis report was published in February 2013.

“I imagine some trusts will continue to invest in frontline staff and that is the right thing to do,” Dr Poulter said in an interview with Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal.

He added: “At the same time, it is important there is an on-going drive for efficiency [to] reduce back-office function and administration costs.

Dan Poulter

Dan Poulter

“There is a lot of money wasted in hospital trusts from poor procurement practice, for example, poor estate management and poor use of temporary staff.”

Despite the creation of some extra posts, most frontline nurses warn they remain severely understaffed.

As reported earlier this month, 82% of respondents to a Nursing Times survey said they did not have sufficient time to give patients adequate care.

Readers' comments (8)

  • Just read and a bit late finding that operations for children with cerebral palsy have been cancelled due to cutbacks in the NHS at Queens Medical centre in Nottingham. Please tell me this isn't true Dr Dan. Because if it is true then anything you say is meaningless.

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  • he should be 'pleased' at all the careers and health and families destroyed through the previous job losses and all of those that have been recruited from abroad! Bravo, sir!

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  • they are putting the posts out but we are still losing staff, lost 20% of our staff in the last month

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  • Are these numbers filled posts or new vacant posts? not including all the posts that have been closed.
    When and where did he get these figures from?
    Is it only in hospital wards? so what about care in the community?
    What happens when some nurses move across to become Health Visitors?
    What are the numbers of foreign nurses now working in the UK? without whom severe shortages would be even more apparent. Increasing numbers, where possible, are leaving NHS to go private and/or abroad to have a better quality of life and delivery of care, in a culture that values nurses much more, and if not left certainly thinking about it.

    If the government doesn't want to give appropriate remuneration packages to recruit and retain hardworking and caring staff (bit like what bankers are asking for, 'you paid for what you get, and quality costs', except that here lives are saved and quality of life improved), and put in place decent policies to ensure better care and standards for patients, then how would everyone feel if they had to pay for non-emergency treatment, like we currently do for dental treatment, on a sliding scale based on income/benefits.

    There might then be enough money and resources to improve morale, increase staffing + skill levels and more staff who would also be happy to spend more time directly caring for patients.
    Otherwise, frazzled people could end up like on Panorama and think some of those staff should be sectioned. Rationed and cheap care will cost this country many times more :(

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  • tinkerbell

    rationed care, cheap care, and don't care are all costing peoples lives and sadly it is going to get worse with no apparent indications from anyone but the NHA Party that they are going to fight to restore what was OUR NHS. Unbelievable that this unelected government, without mandate, could destroy us and it and then jog on.

    Anyone for champagne?

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  • Leaving NHS after 14 years I have never felt as scared and demoralized as over the past 3 years.The staff that I have worked with have been the best the decision makers the worst.

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  • and where have the 2,400 extra registered nurses come from….not just abroad… but the independent and care home sector where recruitment is becoming increasingly difficult at a time when care in the community is acknowledged as the future! Robbing Peter to pay Paul will not create a sustainable system. It requires action and support across the system and by employers to create attractive and comparable conditions, and more pre reg training places.

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  • Don't just look for the numbers but the skills as well.

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