We must fill nursing workforce gaps and find new ways of working
COVID-19 has demonstrated how agile children’s nurses are, but has laid bare where there are gaps in the workforce and what the detrimental effects can be
Children’s nurses are tired and under pressure, but continue to provide the best care for children, young people and their families. The emotional cost to nurses has yet to be measured, but the latest annual report of the Paediatric Intensive Audit Network shows there has been a decline in units attaining Paediatric Critical Care Society standards for the numbers of nurses and healthcare assistants employed over the previous 12 months.
This helps illustrate the extent of nursing attrition not just in paediatric critical care or children’s nursing, but in the wider profession.
Delivering high-quality care to children
Paediatric critical nurses continue to work as part of wider teams to ensure expertly trained staff deliver high-quality care to children, young people and their families when they need it most.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic confirmed that children’s nurses are agile and adaptable, but also revealed gaps in the workforce. This will be of increasing concern, and may have long-term effects on staff well-being, recruitment and retention’
Nursing establishments are complex and ever-changing, and the paediatric critical care workforce is accustomed to this flexibility. The use of non-registered nurses and professionals who meet the appropriate educational standards and competencies is common, and such staff are crucial to the provision of care to children, young people and their families.
Nursing is a rewarding job, but can be stressful, and workforce shortages will continue to be a challenge over the next 12-18 months as national recovery work is prioritised. The psychological effects of this stress on staff will continue while we strive to maintain capacity, and deliver care to children and young people.
Effects of the pandemic on nurses
Redeployment to support adult intensive care, increased support for families, restrictions on visiting, the need to wear personal protective equipment, lack of professional development and the effects of the pandemic have all contributed to an erosion of morale, not only among the paediatric critical care workforce, but also among children’s nurses around the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic confirmed that children’s nurses are agile and adaptable, but also revealed gaps in the workforce. This will be of increasing concern, and may have long-term effects on staff well-being, recruitment and retention.
The current model of work is unsustainable and it is vital that workforce revision and new ways of working are prioritised nationally.
Have you tried RCNi Plus yet?
RCNi Plus offers unlimited access to RCNi Learning, Nursing Children and Young People, Nursing Standard, our 8 other specialist journals and RCNi Portfolio to store your CPD for revalidation. Use the discount code TRYPLUS to trial it for just £1 a week for 12 weeks. Go to RCNi Plus Tryplus Promotion for details