A major survey conducted by the Royal College of Nursing suggests that approximately 90% of nursing leaders in the NHS are worried about recruitment.
The Royal College also asserts that there are approximately 40,000 vacancies in nursing currently, and that this is having a significant impact on the quality of service being delivered.
It is believed by the union for nurses that qualified nurses are increasingly being substituted for non-registered care staff, despite research having already been published indicating that this increases risks to patients.
The Royal College of Nursing is also demanding legislation that would require NHS trusts to deliver safe stuffing on wards.
“It is the lack of NHS funding that has led to efficiency pressures in the system and despite the findings of the Mid Staffordshire Public Inquiry, lessons have not truly been learned. Over the last decade efficiency savings and finance have been consistently prioritised over safe and effective staffing. Short-sighted cost-saving measures implemented in the absence of proper engagement with the profession or risk assessment have resulted in a shortage of nurses,” the Royal College asserted in a statement.
And the results of a survey conducted by the union should be considered rather alarming.
Having interviewed ninety NHS nursing directors, the Royal College indicated that 76% are concerned about ensuring safe staffing levels, with 90% worried about their inability to recruit nurses.
A further 84% indicated that retaining existing staff is becoming challenging.
The RCN study called “Safe and Effective Staffing: the Real Picture” reflected that major action must be taken sooner rather than later.
“The time has come for legislation in each country in the UK to ensure that patients always receive the safe care they deserve through genuinely enforceable safe nurse staffing levels. This report shows that the skill mix is being diluted and substitution is occurring. Vacancy rates have increased across the UK, but doubled in England in the last three years.”
Workforce data indicates that the number of qualified nursing, midwifery and health visitor staff has increased by just 2% since the turn of the decade, with unregistered staff increasing by 8% over the same period.
The Royal College of Nursing labelled this as being effectively “nursing on the cheap”.
And the union was also critical of the decision to suspend work on safe staffing, which was made by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence back in 2015.
“The work was handed to NHS Improvement, who are currently in the process of developing safe and sustainable staffing improvement resources across different clinical settings. We are deeply concerned that this approach lacks enforceability.”