Britain faces shortage of nurses this winter with more than 40,000 vacancies: RCN
Saturday 7 November 2020 9:29 AM UTC
LONDON Nov 7: Britain will face a shortage of nurses this winter with more than 40,000 vacancies in England alone as the NHS fights a second wave of coronavirus, a union has warned.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said it was concerned staff could ‘burn out’ over winter unless local staffing plans prioritised the ‘safest, highest quality care’. It said more nurses were registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) than last year but it was not enough.
This week the health service in England moved to its highest alert level, level four, to deal with Covid-19 cases.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said the move was in response to a ‘serious situation ahead’, adding there were ’22 hospitals’ worth’ of Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the country.
The RCN urged the Government to plan around the actual nurse staffing available – including what those nurses can safely do.
It asked for a space where workers could raise concerns about staffing levels and patient safety, and be assured such worries would be properly acted on.
Mike Adams, RCN England director, said: “The NHS is now at its highest level of preparedness as it faces the prospect of an extremely challenging winter. We already know that frontline nurses, in hospitals, communities and care homes, are under huge strain, and anecdotally we’re hearing that in some hospitals they are becoming increasingly thinly spread on the ground, as staff become unwell or have to isolate at the same time as demand on services continues to increase.
“The Government says nurses have been given extra training to provide more critical care staff to treat Covid-19 patients, but there simply aren’t enough to go around.There are around 40,000 registered nursing vacancies across the NHS in England alone. It is essential that learning is applied to planning for this winter, including what service can be delivered safely with the workforce available.”
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