Nursing crisis sweeps across services as NHS struggles to find recruits | NHS

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Ministers are warned of a growing workforce crisis in English hospitals as they struggle to recruit staff for tens of thousands of vacant nursing posts, with one in five nursing posts in some services now not provided.

Hospital officials say the shortage of nurses has been compounded by a collapse in the number of recruits from Europe, including Spain and Italy.

The most recent figures from the NHS show that there are around 39,000 vacant positions for registered nurses in England, with one in 10 nurses unfilled in acute care services in London and one in five vacant in the UK. Southeast Mental Health Services.

The number of nurses from the European Economic Area adhering to the Council of Nurses and Midwives register has decreased by more than 90%, from 9,389 as of March 31, 2016 to 810 as of March 31, 2021.

Thousands of nursing positions each week cannot be filled due to staff shortages, according to hospital security staffing reports consulted by the Observer.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is already under pressure because of UK labor shortages after Brexit, from truck drivers to farm workers. Concerns from health officials about the impact on patient care of acute staff shortages have come to light as experts warned last week that the flu could kill up to 60,000 people this winter.

NHS trusts are paid by NHS England up to £ 7,000 for each vacancy to try and recruit nurses from overseas countries including India and the Philippines.

Patricia Marquis, England Director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: “There are simply not enough staff to provide the care needed, and we now have a nursing workforce crisis. We should never have found ourselves in a situation where we were so dependent on international nurses. We are on a razor’s edge. “

Hospital trusts struggling to fill nursing positions include:

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust – which operates Royal Stoke University Hospital and Stafford County Hospital – and which reported 401 unfilled nursing positions on its board of directors, a vacancy rate of 12 %. The trust temporarily suspended non-emergency operations last month due to high demand and understaffing. It recruits nurses from abroad, particularly in India and Ghana.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which reported nearly 700 vacancies for nurses, midwives and operational service practitioners, representing a vacancy rate of 13%. He postponed 287 operations in July and August and last weekend asked nurses to work extra shifts due to “understaffing in our intensive care units.”

Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, with a 17% vacancy rate for nurses, one of the highest in the country. There are 2,269 full-time clinical and non-clinical vacancies. The trust reported that over the summer, up to 1,850 patients per month were waiting more than four hours in the emergency room due to a staff shortage.

A survey by union Unite of 188 intensive care staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust revealed staff concerns about ‘chronic’ nursing shortages and risks to patient safety. Nine in ten employees reported a shortage of staff in their department every shift.

Dave Carr, 58, an intensive care nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital and representative of Unite, said: “I work in intensive care for patients recovering from surgery and we need up to 11 nurses on this shift, one for each patient. We regularly only have three or four of our own nurses available and have to borrow nurses from other areas or use temporary staff. The staff are absolutely devastated. More than 100 nurses have left the trust in the past 10 months.

Shelley Pearce, 34, an accident and emergency nurse and RCN workplace representative in southern England, said nurses in Europe had been abused by some members of the audience after the Brexit referendum. She said: “I can completely understand why some made the decision to return home because they did not appear to be wanted.”

The government has pledged to increase the number of NHS nurses to 50,000 by 2025. NHS England announced £ 28million in funding in September last year to recruit nurses to the foreigner to help pay for accommodation, flights and quarantine. The initial cost of recruiting a nurse from overseas is between £ 10,000 and £ 12,000.

NHS workers are demanding an appropriate pay rise in July. Photograph: Hesther Ng / Rex / Shutterstock

By comparison, it takes three years to train a nurse in the UK and costs £ 50,000 to £ 70,000. The government does not pay tuition fees, but provides maintenance grants worth at least £ 5,000 per year.

There is a global shortage of nurses and as a result there has been criticism of trusts recruiting from overseas instead of training more UK staff. Even the new Minister of Care and Mental Health, Gillian Keegan, would have called it “incredibly ineffective and also bogus and just plain weird”.

Despite this, a NHS-commissioned NHS think-tank report released last week said significant overseas recruitment would be needed if the government’s nursing goal was to be met. Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, called for a fully costed workforce plan during the government’s spending review this month.

She said: ‘We have had labor shortages for many years, and we have seen this exacerbated by Brexit. The workforce is the lifeblood of any hospital and when you have shifts that aren’t full it’s a huge challenge.

Danny Mortimer, managing director of NHS Employers, which is part of the NHS Confederation, said: “We have been under the pressure that we would usually see during the winter months over the summer. Many staff are predicting it will be one of the toughest winters the NHS has ever faced. “

A survey of more than 1,000 NHS staff by the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation, a charity that supports healthcare workers, found that 73% had considered leaving in the past year. Almost one in three frontline staff said they were likely to leave next year.

The total number of full-time equivalent vacancies in the NHS in England fell from 83,203 in June 2020 to 93,806 in June 2021, according to figures from NHS Digital, the government’s health and information center. During the same period, the number of vacant nursing positions increased from 37,760 to 38,952.

Hospital trusts say they are recruiting staff from overseas to help fill the positions. North Midlands NHS Trust University Hospitals said they recently hired nearly 300 more nurses, 93 of them overseas. The Leeds University Hospitals NHS Trust said staffing was an ‘ongoing challenge’ but was successfully recruiting new staff. Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust said its gaps were being filled with agencies and temporary staff.

A spokesperson for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust confirmed the departure of 118 nurses this year, but said 97 had started and 30 more were in the process of pre-employment screening. They said the trust listened to any concerns raised by staff: “The safety of our patients and the well-being of our staff are our top priorities. We are investing in recruiting more nurses and continuing to provide comprehensive health and wellness support to our staff. “

Health experts say the overall NHS workforce is growing, but not enough to meet demand, and the proportion of unfilled jobs in NHS England has increased over the year.

The NHS said: “The NHS is committed to reducing nursing vacancies, including through international recruitment, and increasing welfare support for existing staff to boost retention.

“Nursing and midwifery has grown by more than 2.7% in the past year, with over 330,000 additional full-time staff providing care, and 80,000 people across the country have applied for a nursing course. ‘nurses this year. “

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said:We are seeing a record number of nurses working in the NHS and demands for nursing and midwifery studies have increased by 21% this year alone. We will continue to support the growth of our NHS membership to tackle the backlog, with an additional 50,000 nurses by the end of this legislature.

“We are working closely with Health Education England, NHS England, Skills for Care and the wider sector to make sure we have staff with the right skills across the country. This includes improving retention, investing in and diversifying our training pipeline, and continuing to recruit ethically overseas. “


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