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New nurses struggling to find jobs

RCN Scotland has said policies such as freezing posts and not replacing people who leave mean newly qualified nurses and midwives are struggling to find jobs in the NHS.

The union has warned “unsustainable tactics” are being used by health chiefs struggling to cut costs, and called for more to be done to protect frontline services.

It added the decisions could have “devastating consequences” for patient care in the future.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs in June that more than 1,500 nursing and midwifery posts would be axed this year as part of plans to cut almost 4,000 NHS jobs.

However, she said there would be no compulsory redundancies and expressed confidence that patient care would not be affected.

Associate director of RCN Scotland, Ellen Hudson, has voiced her concerns about the impact of any cuts on people trying to start a career in nursing.

She told Scotland on Sunday: “To save money, many health boards are focusing on the nursing wages bill and are using unsustainable tactics, such as freezing posts, not replacing registered nurses when they leave or retire and converting vacant registered nurse posts to a lower grade so that they cost less. This has resulted in far fewer employment opportunities for newly qualified nurses.”

Ms Hudson also questioned whether a scheme which offers new nurses a one-year NHS job guarantee after they qualify would be able to continue in the current financial climate.

She added: “The nursing workforce in Scotland is ageing and we are losing the skills and experience of older nurses who are retiring. If we do not replace them with new registered nurses this could have devastating consequences for the future of patient care in Scotland.”

The Royal College of Midwives Scotland also spoke of similar concerns and suggested that there may soon be no jobs at all for newly-qualified midwives.

Readers' comments (31)

  • Our acute trust has just taken on 14 portuguese newly qualified nurses whilst only a handful of our cohort have jobs....WHY

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  • in relation to the above - I would suggest the reason is the most commonly used phrase these days that I hear ....left hand and right hand!!

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  • here we go again- non nursing/medical managers concerned only with impressing their bosses/keeping their useless lives going by balancing the books, when all this will lead to is less people choosing nursing due to poor job prospects, but then oh dear in a couple of years we will have the ludicrous recruitment from abroad again with all the problems THAT entails. the NHS needs to SACK these idiots and let them go back to Tescos/Asda or wherever they crawled out from

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  • >the NHS needs to SACK these idiots and let them go back to Tescos/Asda or wherever they crawled out from

    Probably nurses.

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  • and this is after the same bloody idiots wasted £300 million on 'management consultants'. What the NHS management do is so close to criminal negligence I think a few should be sent to prison for wasting public money

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  • Well what can I say!!!!
    I am finishing up this year after studying nursing for 4 years!!!, have my diploma and degree in the adult branch....and no where to practice it. I'm devastated about the way things are right now. Now if I go back and specialize whats the chances of getting a job then, very slim.
    Feel like I have just wasted 4 years of my life.......should have stayed an auxillary

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  • The idea that nursing is a job for life is no longer sustainable and all nurses need to take this into consideration before making rash comments. I answered the call for specialist nurses in 1999 and have continued to work in the NHS since then. I continue to work with a varied ethnic mix of nurses who have a high standard of clinical skill that is required in the modern NHS.
    Nursing has many facets and opportunities are there for those willing to take the challenge be that on home soil or abroad.

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  • Steve Williams

    Jeffrey, there never WAS a concept that nursing was a job for life. At the very least it's a skilled career, in a similar way that you could say that 'welding' was a skilled career (bear with the rough analogy for a second.) As a welder you cannot expect to work on the construction of the same ship for the rest of your life or even in the same shipyard – but you should, at the very least, have the reasonable expectation of always being able to find gainful employment in your trade. As you point out though, you have to be prepared to relocate – even the welder would do this if the shipyards in his area close.

    Okay, enough of the crude analogy. If health chiefs want to cut costs they should cut throats – their own. Not only would they save the NHS a bundle of money that could be used to employ a few of those newly qualified nurses but they would be doing society a big favour akin to excising a malignant cancer from the face of the earth.

    Do you think that any of these self-serving hypocrites will step up to the plate and resign (without a golden-goodbye and an overly generous superannuated pension) to free up some dosh for some more front-line nurses?

    BWWWAAAHHAAAHHAAhaaaahhhaaa... erm – nope! Too busy with their snouts buried in the collective trough! Oh Mr and Mrs U.K.Taxpayer you would weep if only you knew where/who the bulk of your N.I. contributions really go to.

    100k p.a. For a nurse? Joking eh? Only via promotion to middle management!

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  • Finished four years of study. Have a BA (Hons) Nursing Studies. No jobs. Fantastic. Going to Oz see ya.

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  • Oz even

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  • My Scottish employer is one of those referred to - any post having to be assessed as to whether required before the vacancy is advertised. Although might sound 'sensible' on the surface, the process seems to be taking months. & where is there the most natural turnover? Not in the high band Mon-Fri 9-5 management (including nursing) posts where even if people might have considered moving they're not going to risk losing a jammy post now; But at Band 5 (and 2-3) where people naturally move to gain a variety of experience. Plus maternity leave, retirements etc.... So strangely enough it's the frontline posts becoming & being left empty, with obvious knock on effect on patient care & the health/wellbeing of the remaining staff. Oh, & don't expect the empty shifts to be put out to the nurse bank (ask the nurses who used to be able to rely on an income & are now finding themselves redundant 'by stealth' as still officially have jobs).
    How many months do NHS boards/Scottish Government expect this to be sustainable for?

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  • Who the hell is Jeffrey Smith? I have no objection to working alongside anybody of any race, religion or sexual orientation but the employment of our own skilled force should be priority. The 'management' of the NHS, indeed the country is so wrong and if I didnt fear come back Id put my name to this and many other comments. My bp must be through the roof.

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  • Has it really taken this long to realise?...
    Im still looking for my first job and its hard having to fight so many other people for just one vacancy knowing that the freezes are hitting my local health board now.

    And it doesn't seem fair if some trusts are employing people from other countries without helping those they have funding training for!

    It does make students loose faith and its getting harder. I hope the financial problems are soon sorted in ways that do not have negative effects on patient care!

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  • I am based in Scotland and qualified with both mental health and learning disability degrees. I have been looking for a permanent post since 2007 to no avail. I even received a letter from the NHS stating the recent job I applied for was no longer available due to internal re-arranging of staff. If it wasn't for my young children I would have left Scotland and gone south or any where else where RMNs are required. I have even applied for non-nursing posts in social care as some pay 23k as starting pay for HNC/SVQ 3 level and still i don't have a permanent post. So I'm stuck doing bank work which I'm down as band 5 but shifts are few and when they come up I'm left doing basic care as I'm not skilled or permanent enough to do more. Talk about morale crushing.

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  • It really is a piss take.

    People sacrifice a lot to get their Nursing quals, money, time, family life, personal life, sanity, and it all means nothing at the end of it because of penny pinching, tight arsed, moronically short sighted executives and managers.

    And then they wonder why people stick two fingers up to this country and piss off to Oz, USA and Canada???!!!!

    God I can't wait for my Visa to get here! This country can bloody well rot.

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  • Steve Williams


    @ Anonymous | 24-Aug-2010 1:57 pm

    Welcome to the lulzy world of “The Internets.” I've only got enough time interest for 'dot-jots' as my daughter called them... 'notes' I would say... Jeffrey Smith is what we call a “sock-puppet” - e.g. a dedicated worshipper at the Temple of Onan. Check his stats out. First and only post. Suspicious or what? Just doing it as an on-line wind-up – and good for him. We need these wakeup calls occasionally.

    Best to remember that not everyone on “The Internets”

    is actually out there to be your chum. Some of them are just out there for the “lulz”

    Take it all with a pinch of salt.

    For example... for all I know you actually could be Jeffrey Smith

    That's why the regulars on this site take more notice of people who (1) actually post their identities (even pseudonyms are OK) and (2) have a few posted messages under their belt – however 'left-field' or seemingly 'obnoxious' they are. Yup, I admit I am a prime offender that stretches that limit.

    This site is about “free-speech” concerning matters related to 'nursing' (and XX bunkers.)

    Don't worry too much if the odd “John Smith” pops up and makes an inappropriate missive. It's either Doctor Who or a Daily Mail reporter.

    Whichever way, be calm, just treat them with respect, answer their questions (point by point) respectfully and with your knowledge (see my previous reply!)

    This will not ensure that they will go away... but it will give the rest of us “real” nurses a “heads-up” as to who is bullshitting and who is merely trolling.

    Of course “Anonymous | 24-Aug-2010 1:57 pm” the other thing that you could do to increase your credibility on this forum would be to register with this NT board...

    It is free... You don't need to use your own name. Call yourself “Armpit2010” or whatever... but stick to that and then the rest of us regular, committed posters will take you – and you opinions - more seriously...

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  • Steve Williams

    Oh yeah BTW, the NT censors nurses on this forum as much as the Daily Mail does.

    Just go to

    and you will see what I mean.

    The Nursing Times (on-line) doesn't like its dirty washing being aired in public!

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  • 1:57 pm here again,thanks Steve. I can see having external nerds on the site can confuse comments and opinions of kosher staff especially dealing with important subjects.

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  • For Steve Williams,

    Point taken about anonymous post, but NT can tell who we are & I for one would not feel safe posting my e.g. 24-Aug 1:02pm comment, however true, if I thought my employer could identify me. I know FB posts have been used in disciplinaries already.

    Re: pseudonyms - yes, a valid option, until the postman has to deliver NT marketing post to 'armpit2010'!

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  • Steve Williams

    Hey armpit2010 you just cracked it!

    Absolutely don't bother to register with NT if you sincerely feel they are going to track you down and kill you pet Wabbit...

    Just start your message with... "Hey peeps, it's me - armpit2010" and then we'll all know who you are...

    Shit, I am sorry. I wish I had chosen a better alias for you like "DelicateFragrance69" or "TulipTears007"... alas you are now stuck with "armpit2010"

    Well at least it is better than being a silly "Anonymous"... only way out of that is to register - but I can understand your concerns regarding the NT.

    OK armpit2010, nice to chat to you, have a good one!

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