HSJ’s analysis of staffing levels at 135 NHS acute trusts have revealed some shocking statistics. Of the 135 acute trusts which report their staffing data, 84% failed to meet their nurse staffing targets for both day and night shifts in at least one hospital. Out of the 227 hospital sites reporting data, 198 missed their target for nurses working during the day (almost 90% of hospitals in England). Meanwhile, 159 hospitals (70%), missed the target for nurses working at night.

We see many news articles and headlines based around the shortages our national health service suffers from, but take a look at the situation and it could be said that we are doing more to fuel the issue than to resolve it. In the UK we have an estimated 20,000 permanent nursing vacancies, yet last year alone 37,000 nursing students were turned away. We certainly have the numbers but they just aren’t getting the opportunity.

Furthermore, new immigration laws will force non-EU nurses to leave the country if they earn less than £35,000 after 6 years in the UK. If we do not have sufficient UK trained nurses then all this means is the NHS will lose out on hugely valuable source of nurses. What then? The RCN’s chief executive and general secretary, Dr Peter Carter said “At a time when demand is increasing, the UK is perversely making it harder to employ staff from overseas”.

With something so incredibly valuable, it seems counterproductive to be put more pressure on the NHS. These shortages are a huge cause for concern and it is crucial that something is done to combat the situation.

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