This old song again... Nursing shortage seems to be one of them things that always have been and always will be. However, those last few years, we have been under-producing nurses whilst the demand for care is increasing.
This is directly impacting on us (as well as our dear patients of course). So, I have done my research, and here is where we are:
• We are this year 345 482 Nurses & Midwifes in the UK. The NHS is currently only able to fill 1 in 400 nursing vacancies.
• 1 in 10 nurses quit each year, and 70% nurses leave the NHS within 12 months of qualifying.
• £1.5-2.4 billion are spent each year on temporary nurses, amount that would cover 66 000 full time position wages. Agency nurses are paid on average 61% more than in house staff.
• There is a 23% drop in nursing degree applicants and 500 fewer nursing students began training this September.
• Finally, we estimate 50% less oversea applicants since Brexit.
What they say
MP’s do recognise the crisis and there is an outstanding NHS work force action plan.
Nothing else heard as the subject is quite sensitive and any quote can potentially create social media palavas... (Really hope this blogpost won’t be one of those...)
Nursing is not only meaningful and rewarding but you also get to learn so much about medical sciences and life in general that I personally can’t even imagine having to do something different for a living...
But some days it feels sooo hard for sooo many reasons:
• Long hours, shifts, unsociable hours. Let’s put it out there, it is not human nature to be working nights and weekends.
• Unsatisfactory wages, need to work extra shifts to make both ends meet. Recent pay rise deal which felt like a bitter pill to swallow to more than one nurse. (Surely, I’m not alone, am I?)
• Emotionally difficult with peers' pressure (matrons’ unrealistic goals and [some] Dr’s arrogance) and dealing dramatic life and death situations.
• Physically demanding, struggle to even sit down, heavy workload worsened by staff shortage.
• High responsibility, permanent risk to lose a life and/or your job.
• Little recognition.
• Reform of student funding and bursary removal.
• Lack of appreciation, feeling like being just a number and be replaceable.
So, what can we do
To me, staff retention is all about how a company (the NHS) makes his employees feel.
• Feeling recognised: Take it where it comes, some patients and families are so thankful and have just the right words to make your day.
• Feeling valuable: Give access to professional development, trainings, conferences, give the opportunity to learn more, publish. Pay rise or benefits (e.g. Health insurance and housing)
• Feeling of fairness: Practice an implacable “no blame policy” and involve staff in root cause analysis so that good things can come out of a bad situation.
• Feeling of belonging: Make a team work together and make the hospital issues a common concern everyone can get involved with. A Tango Ice Blast machine in staff rooms might help too.
• Feeling welcome: New nurses we need you! Making sure that new starters and students are supported and appreciated. Promoting nursing to teenagers and career seekers.
I must say that I am personally very proud to be working in the NHS and I do think that we could learn a thing or two from this system in France. Will attempt to compare the both in a future post.
Please comment with all your ideas on what to do as I am sure we would all appreciate being fully staffed, for once!