Where have all the nurses gone?
By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson
A recurring theme in the current series of round-table discussions being held around the country, organised by Caring Times and jointly sponsored by Barclays, Knight Frank and Pinsent Masons, is the ongoing shortage of registered nurses.
Because care operators fear they won’t be able to find the nurses to staff them, fewer new nursing homes are being built and intermediate care remains a fuzzy-edged dream of the future.
Charles Taylor’s piece on the nurse shortage, featured in the coming December issue of Caring Times, looks at the reasons for the scarcity: a fiscally constrained Health Education England means student nurse numbers are down and tighter immigration controls mean the import option is increasingly problematic. Add to that the numbers of nurses leaving the the profession through retirement, burnout and the feeling that they are being asked to do too much for too little reward and it is clear that the shortage is going to be an ongoing problem.
The private sector has relatively little to offer registered nurses in comparison to the NHS’ occupational pension and multiple career choices and many nurses see elderly care as an under-use of their clinical and technical skills.
All the above are compelling arguments for a new (or perhaps old) practice-based nurse qualification, something akin to the former ‘State Enrolled Nurse’. There seems to be a lot of entrenched opposition to this idea but surely, the choice between having an RGN or no nurse at all cannot be preferable to equipping our health and social care system with a corps of compassionate, caring people trained in clinical observation and the skilled delivery of basic hands-on nursing care.
– The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.