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NHS Providers chief calls for government action on nursing workforce crisis

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RCN has launched its 12-point general election manifesto to solve the nursing crisis

Expressing apprehension over the concerning decline in the nursing workforce, Sir Julian Hartley, CEO of NHS Providers, urged the forthcoming government to bolster investment in nursing education and enhance support for student nurses.

Recent analysis from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has projected that the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan will fall short by 10,000 new nurses by 2025.

Commenting on the RCN analysis, Sir Hartley underscored the critical importance of having an adequate number of nurses to ensure the delivery of safe, high-quality patient care.

“Without enough nurses, the delivery of safe, high-quality patient care is compromised,” he said.

He cautioned that the predicted shortfall in nurses would exacerbate existing pressures on the NHS, resulting in long waiting times, delayed treatments and staff burnout.

“The worrying decline in student nurse numbers and potential closure of nursing courses could also lead to a long-term negative impact on the NHS workforce, undermining trusts’ efforts to recover from the pandemic and tackle care backlogs,” he added.

In light of these challenges, he called upon the next government to make a firm commitment to supporting and nurturing the health and care workforce, emphasizing the importance of fully funding the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.

Additionally, he stressed the urgent need for “better investment in nursing education and support for student nurses” to boost staffing levels during this critical period.

RCN general election manifesto 2024 

On 3 June, the RCN unveiled its manifesto for the general election, outlining 12 key points to address the nursing crisis, with a substantial pay rise for all nursing staff identified as the top priority.

Acting RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Professor Nicola Ranger warned that whoever forms the next UK government must start pay negotiations immediately after the election to avoid further pay rise delays.

Speaking to nursing staff at the RCN Congress, she emphasised the urgency, stating that waiting until September when parliament reconvenes would leave already struggling nurses without a pay increase until November.

The manifesto also includes a call to introduce safety-critical nurse-to-patient ratios in all care settings, changes to immigration laws to protect internationally educated staff, government-funded nursing degrees, and an end to care in corridors and other inappropriate locations.

Furthermore, the RCN manifesto underscores the scale of the nursing crisis by noting that thousands of nursing posts remain vacant across the UK, with 25,000 people leaving the profession last year alone.

 

 

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