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Survey highlights need for better workforce planning

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Our exclusive survey this week is a stark reminder of the challenges facing the health service, with more than a quarter of nurses saying they want to quit within the next five years.

And nearly a third of respondents said they were planning to leave because of burnout.

Few will be surprised by the findings as nurses have been reporting for a number of years that they are struggling with their workload, that they have too much paperwork and that they do not have sufficient resources to carry out their duties.

Yet little has been done to help them provide the kind of care that patients deserve and demand in the 21st century.

The survey also reveals that despite the cutbacks of recent years, the profession is heading towards a recruitment crisis and shortages are becoming commonplace.

More than nine out of ten respondents said there were not enough nurses in the system.

The health service’s shambolic workforce planning arrangements must change if any meaningful progress is to be made to solve this problem.

Junior health minister Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review of the NHS promised to provide better workforce planning at a local and national level. But quite what this will mean is unclear. And in the meantime, the profession is left facing yet another period of boom and bust, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

Nurses are not trying to replace doctors

This week NT reports on critical comments made by a GP about nurse-led primary care in a leading medical journal (p4).

While Dr Rhona Knight makes some valid points, a lot of what she says sounds like the same defensive comments GPs have been making for years. The medical profession has always appeared defensive of the expansion of nursing roles.

But more and more nurses are successfully taking on leadership roles in all settings. Doctors should realise that nurses are there to complement them, not replace them.

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