Nurses’ goodwill is being ‘abused’ and people need to be ‘held to account’

Ministers need to consider the financial and the human cost of leaving the jobs vacant.

Matt Bodell
20 May 2019
Dame Donna Kinair

The Government has consistently failed to reduce the number of vacancies.

The Royal College of Nursing has called for an end to the desperate shortage of nurses in England by returning the £1 billion it took from nursing education.


In her first speech to the Royal College of Nursing’s annual conference, which begins today, Chief Executive and General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair will say that the goodwill of nurses is being ‘abused’ as the Government fails to get a grip on reducing England’s 40,000 vacant NHS nurse jobs.

Kinnair will call on Ministers to consider the financial and human cost of leaving jobs vacant and urge them to take urgent action to address safe staffing levels and accountability.

Pointings to the recently passed ‘ground-breaking’ staffing law in Scotland as evidence, she will call on the Government to introduce similar legislation throughout the UK.

‘An important measure of safety’.

As the health service seeks to cope with the shortage, the Government has been accused of ‘quietly dropping’ data from the NHS Choices website for England which revealed the number of nurses and support workers on shift at individual hospitals.


The publication of the data had been seen as an important measure for safety and transparency following the Francis report into care failings and nurse shortages at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.

The information has been replaced by a measure of ‘care hours’ that does not distinguish between care given by Registered Nurses and unregistered support workers despite academic research showing mortality rates rising when the number of registered nurses on a shift drops.

‘Stop the rot’.

Donna Kinnair will say: “We will not stop until people are held to account for the desperate shortages each and every one of us has witnessed. Politicians must stop short-changing the public. They must stop the rot and put an end to the workforce crisis in nursing.

“Rather than only looking at the cost of educating and employing nurses, the Government must think about the true cost – financial and human – of not doing it. Employers, decision-makers and Ministers with the power to change things should not let individual nurses take the blame for systemic failings.


“The Government must make people accountable in law for this situation and put back, into nursing higher education, the money it so catastrophically ripped out.

“The goodwill of nursing staff is being abused and politicians must know it is running out. I will not stand by while this profession is denigrated. I’m immensely privileged to take this job and fight for health care assistants, registered nurses and the future of our profession, the students.”

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