Staffing Problems Facing the Health Care Industry
What staffing problems exist in nursing and healthcare?
According to the Royal College of Nursing Survey 2013 (http://www.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/541292/004503.pdf) of a wide range of health workers in both NHS and private practice, staff shortages in healthcare have reached dangerous levels. Since 2010, the number of registered nurses, healthcare assistants and healthcare support workers has fallen dramatically. Many workplaces within the healthcare industry report also report an increasing number of unfilled posts.
As a result, an alarming number of hospitals and care institutions now have a much lower ratio of staff to patients than is recommended for patient safety (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jul/25/nhs-staff-shortage-pay-kings-fund) .
Why is there such as shortage?
According to the RCN report, the shortages themselves have led to increased reports of stress in the workplace and longer working hours. This, along with a reported 5.5% drop in hourly wages in the past 5 years and fears over increases redundancy and job security, is putting off potential applicants to careers in this sector.
The number of unfilled posts is not primarily due to a lack of applicants however. Government cuts have meant that many organisations have had to implement recruitment freezes. Therefore, there is a struggle to maintain key services with fewer staff to deliver them.
Training places for both nursing and healthcare assistants have undergone great change in recent years. The required level of education and training has increased for both nurses and healthcare workers. Ultimately this is a good thing as it increases the competency of the work force, however, this has also led to a lag in the number of workers ready to enter the profession since these new requirements have been introduced.