Nursing shortage fuelled by 'fewer newly qualified graduates'

NHS trust is using mobile phone app to help tackle shortfall  

The problem of unfilled nursing posts in the UK ‘is not going away’, according to a senior nurse at a large acute trust.

Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust deputy director of nursing Sue Haines was responding to the BBC's Inside Out programme, broadcast yesterday, which revealed that 23,443 nursing posts were unfilled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in December last year.

The BBC obtained the figure via a Freedom of Information request and explained that this amounts to about 9% of the total workforce.

Ms Haines said: ‘There is a sense of nurses being in short supply and we are seeing fewer newly qualified graduates arriving at our trust straight from universities than we used to.

‘This is because they are so in demand they can almost choose anywhere in the country to work.’

Some of the challenges trusts face when recruiting nurses, according to Ms Haines, include 'pressures of the nursing role’ and ‘an often negative image of the profession in the media’.

Ms Haines said her trust has developed a mobile phone app to help tackle the staff shortfall. The resource provides real-time information about where potential staffing problems may arise.

She explained: ‘Ward managers enter in the number of qualified, non-qualified and bank staff they have available, and this allows matrons or senior nurses to calculate a safe nurse-to-patient ratio.

‘This turns red when numbers are felt to be too low and, rather than having to ring round other wards, we can quickly see the ones with a surplus and redistribute them to plug the gaps.’


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