Our beloved NHS is seen now to be chronically short of British nurses, and this has badly affected hospitals’ performance, patent care, morale, and not least financial budgets.
Did we not know that was coming then? We certainly did, didn’t we? All those in the know were vitriolic in their public warnings that the crunch would hit us about now. That was because the coalition Government has over the past five years constantly and continuously cut training – it is no surprise to anyone then that if you don’t train nurses you don’t end up with registered working nurses do you? The Royal College of Nurses was only one of the whistleblowers to spill the beans in 2010/11 about this impending and inevitable disaster – as training places were being ruthlessly slashed (it takes some four or five years to train a nurse).
The Conservatives have form though, don’t they? Yes, their last administration under PM John Major did exactly the same thing and over twenty years ago cut the number of nurse training places by nearly a third, so left Labour PM Blair’s health service chronically short of nursing staff.
So why have the Government frittered away the opportunity to train our much needed nurses when any village idiot knows that we needed more of them not less, as our population has grown by more than seven percent in the last five years alone – and got more older people in it as well? Money of course – nurses’ three of four year University training is paid for by the NHS (so while that has been curtailed, other education funding has actually increased).
Hang on a minute though – aren’t there actually more nurses now? Oh yes, there certainly are, but up to a quarter of them have had to be shipped-in from abroad at enormous expense & physical turmoil (multi-thousands recruited from less prosperous or less-developed countries of the likes of Spain, Italy, Portugal, even Greece, Philippines, India, Pakistan plus other Far East countries). Over eight thousand foreign nurses ‘bought-in’ in the last year alone. It is said that it costs around two-and-a-half thousand pounds to actively recruit a nurse from the EU before wages are taken into account. Hundreds of thousands of NHS’ pounds have been spent now on recruitment jollies abroad which haven’t always been successful and often when the nurses recruited don’t stay long in the NHS anyway.
Then we are faced with the scandalous waste of money by the NHS ALSO having to use Agency nurses to plug their spiralling trained staff shortages – excessive spending costs of around a couple of thousand pounds for a single nurse’s shift – premium rates indeed, eh?. The NHS is incurring annual costs now of some £2,500,000,000 [wow?] on temporary staff, as the market rate for ‘fill-in’ staff rapidly escalates because of the increased demand.
Despite the recruitment of these much needed mercenaries, there is still growing un-wilting stress & crushing pressure on our nurses due to lack of staff, long extended shifts, and above all a sense of failure in their patients’ care. That has given them illness and mental health issues of anxiety or depression – up by fifty percent (1 in 30 are off sick themselves). Not only that, but nurses are voting with their feet by their thousands and swaning-off to overseas promised lands , like America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (five-and-a-half thousand absconded last year alone). We are now major exporters of nurses but that doesn’t gain us any financial points, does it?
[Our ‘head in the sand’ Government denies that there is even a problem over our nurses – what planet are they on, eh?]