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15.08.17

RCN: Not enough nurses in 90% of largest NHS hospitals

More than 90% of England’s 50 biggest hospital trusts are not properly staffed and do not have enough nurses to the planned levels, a leading health group has today warned.

Analysis based on the NHS Choices website undertaken by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) also confirmed that hospitals were putting more unregistered support staff on shift in order to cope with the shortage of registered nurses.

This was found to happen particularly on night shifts, when two-thirds of the largest hospital trusts put more healthcare assistants on the ward than planned.

Chief executive of the union Janet Davies added that the findings support other recent RCN research that has shown there are currently 40,000 nurse vacancies across England, a figure that is likely to worsen if EU workers leave after Brexit.

“These startling figures show that, despite the government’s rhetoric, our largest hospitals still do not have enough nurses and that is putting patients at risk,” Davies argued.

“In light of this, the government must redouble its efforts to train and recruit more qualified nurses and stop haemorrhaging the experienced ones who are fed up, undervalued and burning out fast.”

The RCN boss added that this understaffing was unfair on healthcare assistants as well, who should not be left in a situation that they are not trained to handle.

“Nurses have degrees and expert training and, to be blunt, the evidence shows patients stand a better chance of survival and recovery when there are more of them on the ward,” Davies concluded. “Patients can pay the very highest price when the government encourages ‘nursing on the cheap’.”

NHE has contacted NHS England for comment, but at the time of publication had not received a response.  

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