Overseas nurses recruited to fill vacancies in Wiltshire Hospitals
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I read yesterday on one of my local BBC New sites, that hospitals in Wiltshire are facing serious nursing shortages.
The issue is apparently compounded by a significantly decreasing number of UK students completing their nursing degree and registering as newly qualified nurses. As a consequence the NHS Trusts responsible for both Salisbury District Hospital and the Great Western Hospital in Swindon have had to look overseas to fill the outstanding vacancies. I am not suggesting at all that this is a bad thing, or that the nurses recruited from overseas are not suitably qualified, but it is clearly a reflection of the decreasing popularity of nursing as a profession in the UK. Why this is, I clearly cannot say, but I would hazard a guess that issues of pay, perceived NHS bureaucracy, reduced job security given funding cuts, the increased requirement for a nursing degree and the loss of bursaries previously available to NHS students, may all play a factor.
As a clinical negligence lawyer, I am acutely aware of the importance of a high standard of nursing care and the need for a full complement of nursing staff on wards. I hear complaints on an almost daily basis about understaffed wards and overstretched nurses and the impact that this has on the level of care that they and their relatives receive.
The BBC article reports that this is a problem across the South of England and nationally, and the Centre for Workforce Intelligence has apparently advised that there could be a shortage of up to 50,000 nurses across the NHS within the next 3 years. This is a very worrying statistic and I would suggest that perhaps more needs to be done to address the underlying causes of reduced numbers wanting to enter the nursing profession.
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