Shortage of Nurses in the UK
What are the staffing problems facing the UK nursing profession?
According to the most recent survey of health services in the UK (by Health Education England), most services are short-staffed when it comes to qualified nurses (http://www.nursinginpractice.com/article/full-extent-uk-nursing-shortages-revealed). In fact, the survey reports a shortfall of qualified nurses in 83% of centres questioned – which is an alarming finding.
What is causing the staff shortages in the UK nursing sector?
In short, the main problem is a lack of specialist skills – the Health Education England survey reported over 40 different nursing specialisms with vacancies that have proved hard to fill. Whereas in Scotland, a recent report states that government cuts have really affected the bottom rungs of the nursing career ladder with a sharp drop in the number of student places on nursing course (although this has seen a 4% rise in the past year – a promising change). (http://www.rcn.org.uk/newsevents/news/article/scotland/nursing_student_numbers_going_up,butshortage_of_nursespersists,_says_rcn)
How are the nursing staff shortages being addressed?
So far, many services have been resorting to advertising most posts overseas as well as in the UK – with some reporting greater success recruiting from abroad than at home, it has to be said. Other services have said that they are considering this for future vacancies.
Professionals within the NHS have also highlighted the need to attract those who have left the NHS to work in private practices back into the public sector – to do this, they must start listening and responding to the reasons why people moved away from these positions in the first place. The Royal College of Nursing Employment Survey 2013 identified many contributory factors including stress and a level of workload that many nurses felt inhibited their ability to do their best for their patients.
However, for new entrants to the workforce, the future is looking brighter – there are more training places available, more choices in terms of vacancies to apply for and a greater focus on staff well being than ever before.