Recently, a newly qualified nurse told me, with tears in her eyes, that she was astonished to see a list of jobs on nursingtimesjobs.com.
“Oh, there are jobs. I got so frightened because at college I kept being told there would be no jobs once we qualified, or that there would be just one every now and again, with 70 people applying for it.”
How ridiculous that, having worked so hard to learn clinical skills and laboured so long over the books, one should feel grateful to have even a shot at a job - any nursing job.
With the Royal College of Nursing predicting 15,000 nursing posts disappearing over the next 12 months, it looks as though many nurses could find themselves as depressed and weepy as the newly qualified nurse at the prospect of a career involving years of training and hard work just waving goodbye to them.
It doesn’t make sense to dispose of those skills en masse when one day they may be needed. Just look at how hard the government is having to work to attract health visitors back to the profession. That is definitely a lesson to those making the cuts - you need nurses, midwives and health visitors. You can try and cut them, but soon, you’ll realise that’s a false economy and you will have to attract them back at great cost and often with enormous difficulty, or the health of the nation will suffer.
Nursing is frequently about making choices, such as choosing the ethical thing to do, even when it’s painful. But when will someone do the right thing to protect our nurses? It’s not just about protecting jobs - it’s about protecting the public.
After all, we don’t have to look too far back to see how cutting nurse numbers can distort patient care into something we don’t recognise as adequate or safe. And that is enough to make anyone - patient or nurse - a bit tearful.
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