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‘Our leaders need to realise the damage they are doing’


We don’t have enough nurses. We’ve got it wrong. We need to correct that fast.

You know those book reviews that condense the book into a 30-second read, saving you the three or four hours it might otherwise have taken to trawl through the epic tome? Well the first three sentences of this column are the 15-second version of the health select committee’s report on the nursing workforce, published a couple of weeks ago. If you don’t have the time to read it, there it is in a nutshell.

But I would urge you to make time to read it because it’s a clear and honest account of the situation the profession now finds itself in. The authors could have sweetened the pill by claiming the nursing associate role would fix the problem. They didn’t because they know it won’t. 

The committee could have said everything would be all right and that the problem wasn’t that bad. It didn’t – it acknowledged that this is a crisis that’s worse than we’ve ever seen before. 

The report could have ignored the impact of that crisis on the individuals who are currently propping up the healthcare system. It didn’t – it listened to nurses, from community and hospital settings, and used their words to support its conclusions about the urgency and scale of the challenge.

”The nurses’ greatest concern was the impact of their exhaustion and dwindling numbers on patients.”

Nursing Times submitted evidence to the health select committee from chief nurses who attended our Directors’ Congress in October last year. As a result of reading that evidence, the committee asked us to help them talk to more nurses; we set up groups of frontline nurses at our Team Leaders’ Congress and the Royal London Hospital.

Those nurses expressed real anguish at being undervalued – their continuing professional development slashed and pay cut while their breaks are non-existent and their hours extend into unpaid overtime because there is no one to safely hand over to. But the nurses’ greatest concern was the impact of their exhaustion and dwindling numbers on patients. 

I’ve said this before about earlier reports exposing the desperate situation with nursing resources. I hope this report will have a positive effect.

If government ministers are too busy to read more than my 15-second review, they will be missing how much damage they are doing to nurses, the health and social care system – and patients. 



Readers' comments (3)

  • I am so sad to read this letter from a mother who has her daughters best interests at heart. Nurses have had no recognition no pay rise no work benefit no nothing for many years.It is indeed no wonder they are leaving to a better place feeling valued and paid at least a living wage.No rage against the pay rise for the NMC directors this week which has little press .They protect the public not us so why should we pay the £120 every year for what? needs nursing outcry.

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  • Jenni has hit the nail on the head with this article. The review will be ignored, however, because the opinions of nurses are not respected or even listened to, much of the time. The nursing profession is in crisis. Senior nurses know it, but do nothing but spout rhetoric and pay lip service to how wonderful and hard working we all are. They should be lobbying MP's and petitioning the government to re-introduce the bursary, raise salaries and therefore raise numbers at the bedside. They won't, of course, because they remain unaffected. It is not they who have to explain to angry and anxious relatives why there is no nurse; nor do they have to face the daily abuse from frightened patients, left lying on trolleys because the ward they should be admitted to have no staff. The cry goes up, there are no beds. There are beds. Just no-one to care for those in them. And it will get worse.

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  • To all Nurses reading this,

    How can you have so much compassion, so much love for all your patients when you are under so much pressure and pain?

    I always respect you and your opinions for you are all very important and you are always making me and my family better.

    PDave Angel

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