It comes as no surprise that the tipping point between nurses entering and leaving the NHS has finally been reached.
Throughout the years that I worked for the NHS, there had been a progressive decline in the number of nursing staff working on wards. At the same time, patient demand was rapidly increasing despite budgets being severely stripped back.
When I first trained as a nurse, we were treated as part of the ward staff and were paid during our training. Since that time (from the 1970’s onwards), successive governments and nursing authorities have remodelled nursing roles and the training they are provided on numerous occasions. This seems to have always been to the detriment of the nurse and the care they are able to give.
We’re seeing thousands of experienced nurses leaving the NHS, and many also leaving the profession, yet the Government is introducing even more changes to nursing education. The apprenticeship scheme that is now being introduced merely assists in getting people to work on wards for a low wage - and these nurses are unqualified until the apprenticeship has been completed. This is not alleviating the current shortage of qualified nursing staff on the wards.
The pressure on staff has grown year-on-year for a very long time. Stress-related illness, the need for nurses to work long hours to fill in for sick colleagues, and the loss of qualified staff is only adding to employee discontent.
When is the Government going to take notice that serious change is needed to protect our much-loved health service?
Written by Michael Campbell, a nurse analyst at leading medical negligence law firm, Fletchers Solicitors, who has also worked in the NHS for over 20 years.