Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

'If you were trying to get rid of nurses, this is how you would do it'


Do you feel like you’re special? Liked you’re valued? Like the government is working hard to incentivise you to stay in the NHS?

No, I didn’t think so. I am glad you do, but like you, I sometimes wonder why you do.

In the last seven days, I have had two experiences that have made me wonder this more deeply.

The first was at Nursing Times Careers Live in Bristol on Thursday. As I took to the stage to welcome delegates to our careers fair, I articulated the value of the nursing delegates in front of me. I urged them to go out into the exhibition floor and be sure of their worth when they approached the employers, all of whom had paid money to secure stands at our event to meet and attract nurses like them.

“I can understand why my comments made them feel I was detached from the real world”

As I enthused about their ability to shop around for an employer of their choice, I saw a few nurses shaking their heads, and I can understand why my comments made them feel I was detached from the real world. Because of course, while it is true that employers are desperate to hire nurses, and it is totally an employee’s market right now, there isn’t a lot the NHS can do to make their staff feel valued.

You can’t get more than a 1% pay award, flexible working isn’t on offer at many organisations, the benefits have decreased in value, oh yes, and the job has got a lot tougher with a lot fewer people to help you do it well. It is hardly a sales pitch is it?

“There isn’t a lot the NHS can do to make their staff feel valued”

One in three nurses is due to retire in the next 10 years. The number starting training to become nurses isn’t rising to keep pace with those leaving the profession and with the bursary gone, we have no idea of the impact of paying for your degree on retention of nurses in undergraduate nursing courses. We are also now seeing a dramatic decrease in the number of nurses joining the NMC register from overseas – and because we are failing to reassure those already working here from overseas that they have a guaranteed job, we are losing them too.

If you set out to get rid of as many nurses as you could from the NHS, this would be how you would do it. So am I cynical when I say I think the government is trying to derail the NHS? Or just calling the facts as I see them?


Readers' comments (13)

  • It does feel as if everything at the moment is conspiring to undermine the profession. Not only poor employment practice - low pay, no CPD opportunities, no flexibility etc - but the introduction of nursing associates, a 'fast track' programme that appears to undervalue a 3 yr graduate, no retention strategies. It feels more of a derailment of a profession than of the NHS. Although, nurses are the greatest workforce in the NHS so if they're derailed, then safety and quality of care is derailed and what price the NHS then?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree 100% with the article and above comment, I feel however one they feel the workers don't feel these actions are motivated and two we can't really do much about it. I have been writing to a local MP about current situation pay restraint included and have got the usual comments. This has left myself feeling as many others devalued but as said is that the motivation to these short term strategies.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have been out of general practice for 20 years but I have kept up my engagement in health related voluntary work. Three years ago, inspired by a Nursing Times article,(Nursing Times 24/09/14) I attempted to get onto a return to practice course. In spite of these return to practice courses being promoted and a supposed demand for qualified nurses to return to the profession, and in spite of the fact that I have a masters in public health, I was not snapped up. In fact it was an incredibly difficult process as not only did you have to secure a place at a University you also had to be already employed in a Trust and it involved two separate applications. In the end I lost motivation as I came to the realization that people like me were not required or desired actually. Do they want nurses to return to the profession or not? If so, the process should be a lot easier, there should be more courses available and online courses would be the way to go. There should also be more flexibility with dates especially if a person is willing to move to a new town for the duration of the course.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I recently listened to Jenni at the 'All Queens Nurse's Meeting' and I have never heard a speaker as passionate about nurses who is not a nurse. She spoke about us not saying 'I am just a nurse' and I guess she was encouraging us to shout from the roof tops our achievements. Unfortunately the parlous state of nurse numbers will have a devastating impact for the NHS, however it equally if not perhaps more dramatically impacts the private sectors too. In other words this is about the nursing profession. I remember when I started my journey as a nurse and they had just increased the student nurse salary to address the looming shortfall of qualified nurses. So the powers that be decided perhaps nurse training was the problem we were not seen as professionals and we wanted that so they introduced project 2000. We then lost the salaried wage, and got a bursary. Now we've lost the bursary and got a student loan. Every step financially impacting on people like me who had a family or low income when they were able to start a nurse training programme. The interesting thing from my perspective is that we've been here, where we are now so many times in my 30 years. Are we, nurses, a toy for the powers that be. They seem to address the nursing shortfall but it always seems to be after it's become the 'worst shortfall' in nursing history and then takes a few years to 're-cover'. Where I live, we have a shortfall in nurses, but it tends to be in the advanced level nurses rather than newly qualified. The lack of mentors, to bring on the new nurses is more concerning. So where does it leave us? I think most of feel that lobbying our MP is a waste of time, mine failed to respond to the email I spent nearly an hour of my time constructing with my specific local concerns relating to adult health and social care. However, together we are very strong but I totally understand why some nurses feel antipathy towards becoming activists, myself in their numbers. I came into nursing to care not to get angry.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Completely correct, complete waste of breath. Yes, the government is attempting to derail the nursing profession but it is in collusion with nursing leaders, the unions and the NMC. None of these bodies have done anything and I mean ANYTHING of any value in holding the government to account in it's treatment of the nursing profession. So we continue to complain and bemoan our lot in life, despite knowing it will fall on deaf ears. The only way we will ever make them listen is to take industrial action. But we won't because we value the lives of our patients. So we will continue to complain until we leave to do something else and are replaced by nursing associates - cheaper, easier to control and quicker to train. Profession? What profession.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Hear Hear! RNs RIP

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree with Nurse 57 except that she maligns the N.M.C.. This organisation has no place representing nurses; it is set up to control nurses and prevent them abusing the public and undermining 'the profession' (whatever that is'). Trying to fight with two arms behind one's back is futile and the lower ranks give up.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Jenni Middleton is a true ambassador for nurses. I often forget that Jenni is not a nurse, she understands the nursing political landscape and speaks up for nurses so eloquently. Thank you for being a voice for nursing and nurses on behalf of the CNOs and others who obviously can't.

    Yes the government is trying to derail the NHS and are gettin minimal resistance or objection from thoses with the power and authority to do something about it. I know that the RCN are constantly challenging many of the changes the government are constantly pushing through.

    However, we as nurses need to start a social movement and stand as a collective voice against the systematic dismantling of our NHS and dispersion of our nursing workforce or else the NHS will be truly dead before it's 70th birthday next year.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Unfortunately, we must take a fair share of the blame ourselves. Yes this govenrment is doing everything it can to derail, and ultimately dismantle the NHS, but we have, in effect, stood back and let it happen. We have not been strong enough to stand up, take action, and fight for ourselves, and the Government have been able to ride roughshod over us. Now the battle is lost me thinks.......

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I was an RMN for 8 years, I went through a divorce and had a nervous breakdown. My NHS employer made complaint about 3 medication errors I made while ill. I was eventually struck off. I then acquired a mental health diagnosis. There are thousands of nurses that have left the profession voluntarily or because of sanctions against them on the grounds of ill health due to stress. I am currently in the process of applying to the NMC for reinstatement to the register. If there is a shortage of nurses the government should enable those of us with a mental health diagnosis to return. Especially in light of service user involvement policy.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.