Could we do something now to stop the nursing workforce crisis, or are we going to continue watching numbers fall and stand idly by?
When will the tipping point come when someone actually realises… hold on, we have to do something about this now.
Following the referendum vote last year and the introduction of new, and many say tougher, English language testing, the Royal College of Nursing has announced that the number of EU nurses joining the Nursing and Midwifery Council register has fallen dramatically.
An average of 194 nurses registered each month from September to December in 2016, compared to 797 in the same period the previous year.
“We are so thin on the ground with registered nurses that we are having to bring in a new role”
All this would be fine of course if we were growing our own, and if retention was superb because we were paying nurses well and valuing them… but of course none of that is happening. We are so thin on the ground with registered nurses that we are having to bring in a new role – the nursing associate – that is already being proposed in some places as a substitute for registered nurse vacancies.
Add in the fact that one in three nurses will be retiring in the next 10 years and you can see we find ourselves in something of a crisis. But has anyone who can do something about it actually acknowledged this point publicly? Done anything about it? Said what they intend to do?
The RCN is putting pressure on the government to try to guarantee jobs for EU nurses who are already working in the NHS.
“The fact that the unions are having to launch this campaign demonstrates how little the government understands”
We’ve already announced that we understand the RCN and other unions are trying to get a campaign off the ground to make sure overseas nurses know that they are valued and welcome to stay.
But the fact that the unions are having to launch this campaign demonstrates how little the government understands the significance of the overseas workforce, who are propping up the NHS.
Where are the ministers rallying around to try to reassure those nurses from overseas that they will keep their jobs once we exit the EU? Where is the sense of urgency from the health secretary? Why is it that no one seems to understand that we are in a ship lacking sufficient crew and something needs to be done now or we – patients, the profession and the service – could find ourselves on the rocks?