RCN encourages nurses to vocalise staff shortages

There are currently 40,000 nurse posts vacant in the NHS in England, with serious staffing gaps in care homes and independent hospitals.

The Royal College of Nursing, who argue that more needs to be done to ensure safe staffing, have now launched an advertising campaign to raise awareness of nurse shortages, which are having an impact on patient safety.

Urging patients and the public to sign a petition calling on the government to fix the nursing workforce crisis in England, the college stresses that the government needs ‘to invest in tomorrow’s nurses, end this crisis and make clear in law who is truly accountable for safe and effective patient care’.

The RCN wants ministers and NHS leaders in England to: introduce legislation to ensure accountability for safe nurse staffing at all levels of health and care services in England; ensure that a statutory body has responsibility for future nurse workforce planning; and invest at least £1 billion in nurse higher education in order to reverse the reduction in the number of students both applying to and taking up places on nursing degree courses.

Data shows that the nurse workforce has increased by 4.6 per cent in five years, while hospital admissions have jumped by 12.3 per cent - nearly three times the rate.

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN chief executive, said: “Today we’re issuing a stark warning that patient safety is being endangered by nursing shortages. 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.  

“Nurses are the single most trusted professional group in the whole country, with 96 per cent 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.”

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