Nursing shortages rock nine in 10 hospitals
AN ABYSMAL nine in 10 hospitals are failing to meet their own targets for safe numbers of nurses on wards, according to a report revealed yesterday.
Overworked nurses will be “at breaking point” during another hectic winter in overcrowded hospitals amid the worst nursing crisis in NHS history, experts said.
Many nurses feel they are giving “sub-standard care” as they can only do “absolutely essential” tasks — with no time to provide emotional comfort.
In England, 207 out of 232 hospitals were unable to recruit enough day nurses, compared to 85 per cent last January, while 81 per cent were struggling to find night cover.
Seventy nine per cent missed quotas for both night and day shifts, according to an analysis by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) based on August data.
The figures are “worrying and shocking,” said Jacqui Graves, the head of health and social care at Macmillan Cancer Support.
She said: “Staff are pretty much at breaking point.
“It comes at a time when nurses are already under a lot of pressure — partly because of the winter crisis that always comes when we have got a lot of elderly people in hospital.”
Another crisis is “looming” as many nurses will be retiring in the next five to 10 years with a shortage of new recruits to take over, Ms Graves added.
Chancellor George Osborne announced last month the axing of student nurse training bursaries worth up to £20,000, which will only exacerbate the problem.
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) head Janet Davies blamed low nursing levels on Tory cuts that lead to reliance on expensive agency medics.
Shadow health minister Justin Madders said that there is clearly a “crisis now engulfing the NHS” fuelled by “huge amounts of money” wasted on agencies.
“Ministers should be hanging their heads in shame” for making the situation worse, said Unison head of health Christina McAnea.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said it has appointed almost 8,600 nurses since 2010 and there are 50,000 nurses currently training.
She added that it is also reducing amounts spent on agency fees.