The Royal College of Nursing has provided the NHS pay review body with some stark warnings about the state of the nursing workforce.
In document submitted as evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has admitted that, while the three-year pay deal could never make up for the the total loss in earnings, it should help to attract and retain nurses.
The NHSPRB is an independent organisation that advises the Government on pay and conditions of NHS staff. Although the NHSPRB has been instructed not to make any further recommendations for the duration of the pay deal, it has been tasked with monitoring the implementation and impact of the deal.
Last years’ pay deal was embroiled in controversy when staff did not receive the pay rise they were expecting and an external investigation revealed significant failings in unions handling of the deal.
In its submission, the college also raises major concerns around an increase in the total number of staff leaving the register and a drop in the number of registered nurses employed across all settings.
The college also warns that the uncertainty of Brexit is causing European staff to be “driven away”.
‘Making up for lost ground’.
In the document, the college writes; “Research undertaken by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) shows that nursing staff from the European Economic Area (EEA) are being driven away due to uncertainty over their future rights in the wake of the Brexit vote.”
“Staff shortages are impacting upon NHS organisations’ ability to adequately staff departments and services, leading in some cases to the closure of services.”
“Although there are no official vacancy statistics for England, according to NHS Improvement, the total number of vacancies among the nursing workforce has risen by 9% to 41,722 between the first quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. Of these vacancies, it is estimated that 80% are being filled by a combination of bank (64%) and agency staff (36%), leaving over 8,300 vacancies unfilled. Over this period, the vacancy rate has grown from 10.9% to 11.8%.”
”These statistics illustrate the size of the challenge presently facing the NHS. Moreover, further analysis shows the very real impact on the workforce in terms of their own safety, wellbeing and morale and their ability to deliver safe care. Staff shortages are impacting upon NHS organisations’ ability to adequately staff departments and services, leading in some cases to the closure of services.”
Calling for “urgent action“ the college adds while the three pay agreements will not make up for the total loss in earnings experienced by nursing staff as a result of pay restraint in the NHS, the RCN is hopeful that they will start to make up for lost ground and provide a foundation for attracting new recruits, retaining existing staff and ensuring safe staffing levels.”
In its recommendations, the college calls for the NHS pay review body to support a “meaningful pay rise” for NHS staff.