There have only been an extra 9,894 nurses recruited to NHS hospitals since 2013.
The shortage of nursing staff in England is putting patient safety in danger, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warns today as it use the first World Patient Safety Day to launch a new campaign.
The campaign encourages the people to speak out about the potentially devastating impact of the nursing shortage.
There are an estimated 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in England alone.
It calls for legislation to be brought forward in England to help address the nursing workforce crisis. Earlier this year, nurses and support workers in Scotland secured new legislation on safe staffing levels after a nurse staffing law was introduced in Wales in 2016.
There are not enough nurses.
A new analysis by the RCN shows that for every one extra nurse NHS acute Trusts in England have managed to recruit in the five years since 2013/14, there were 157 extra admissions to hospital as emergencies or for planned treatment.
Last year the number of extra admissions for every additional nurse taken on increased to 217. The analysis shows that the extra 9,894 nurses recruited to NHS hospitals since 2013/14 is dwarfed by the additional 1,557,074 admissions over the same period.
Public carried out to mark the campaign launch reveals that 71 per cent of the public think there are not enough nurses to provide safe care to patients and 67 per cent of the public in England wrongly think the Government has a legal responsibility to ensure there are sufficient nursing staff.
The 2013 Francis Report on failings of care Stafford Hospital concluded that the main factor responsible was a significant shortage of nurses at the hospital.
Issuing a stark warning
Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said: “Today we’re issuing a stark warning that patient safety is being endangered by nursing shortages. Staffing shortfalls are never simply numbers on a spreadsheet – they affect real patients in real communities.
“We’re calling on the public in England to fight for nurses and sign our petition calling on the Westminster Government to invest in the future workforce and make clear who is accountable in law for safe patient care.
“Our polling shows almost two-thirds of people already fear there aren’t enough nurses to provide safe care – and they want recruiting more nurses to be the top priority for any extra funding for the NHS in England.
“Nurses are the single most trusted professional group in the whole country, with 96% of the public placing them at the top of a list of occupations including doctors, teachers, the police and scientists. Nursing staff are asking for your support in calling time on this crisis.”
‘Too much pressure’.
Responding to the RCN’s campaign on safe and effective staffing for patient care; Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), said: “Every time we, or someone we love, needs care, we trust nurses and midwives with the right skills and knowledge to be there to meet our needs.
“The RCN analysis echoes some of the NMC’s own findings. Our survey of nurses and midwives leaving the register revealed that almost a third of respondents cited too much pressure leading to stress and/or poor mental health as a top reason for leaving. And our research with the public tells us they fear these most trusted professionals are held back by the pressures of today’s health and care system.
“You only have to look at some of the stories we are sharing in our Always Caring, Always Nursing campaign to see the difference these dedicated professionals can make in people’s lives.
“Additional resources to support nurses and midwives is a wise investment now and for the future.”