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Serious shortfall of children's nurses and doctors ‘puts care at risk’

A report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health warns that immediate action must be taken to avert the crisis in paediatrics. It says rota gaps, poor planning and uncertainty over EU workers' status is causing serious problems for the service.
Shortfall of paediatric nurses

A serious shortfall in nurses and doctors is putting dangerous pressure on overstretched children's health services, a new report warns.

The report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) warns rota gaps, uncertainty over non-UK nationals working in the NHS and poor planning is putting care at risk.

Closures

One third of paediatric inpatient units and 41% of neonatal units in the UK were closed to new admissions for periods of time in the year up to September 2015, the report shows.

This was due to a shortage of nurses and doctors, says the report State of Child Health: The paediatric workforce.

The report also highlights the limited training that

A serious shortfall in nurses and doctors is putting ‘dangerous pressure’ on overstretched children's health services, a new report warns.


  The State of Child Health report warns that the serious shortfall in nurses is putting care at risk amid concerns over rota gaps. Picture: Getty Images

The report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) warns rota gaps, uncertainty over non-UK nationals working in the NHS and poor planning is putting care at risk.

Closures

One third of paediatric inpatient units and 41% of neonatal units in the UK were closed to new admissions for periods of time in the year up to September 2015, the report shows.

This was due to a shortage of nurses and doctors, says the report State of Child Health: The paediatric workforce.

The report also highlights the limited training that practice nurses and GPs have in child health.

Vacancy rates

Figures show that general paediatric and neonatal rotas are currently having to cope with an average vacancy rate of 14%.

Advanced nurse practitioners are employed by 60% of children’s hospital services – an estimated 426 whole-time equivalent nurses, the report notes.

The RCPCH is calling for paediatrics to be immediately put on the shortage occupation list, meaning employers can recruit from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) without first proving there is no suitable EEA candidate.

‘Great uncertainty’

RCPCH president Neena Modi said: ‘There is great uncertainty following the Brexit vote around the immigration status and terms and conditions of employment for non-UK nationals working in the NHS.

‘These colleagues are a valued and crucial component of the UK child health workforce and a simple assurance that their right to work in the UK will be protected, and their conditions secured, would be immeasurably helpful.’ 

The RCPCH also wants a responsible body for national and regional workforce planning which will align nursing, doctor and other child health staffing requirements.

Responding to new RCN Professional Lead for Children and Young People’s Nursing Fiona Smith said: 'It's unacceptable that the UK is lagging behind so many countries when it comes to children and young people’s health care.

'The service needs the funding and resources to meet this rise in demand. As levels of staffing, morale and resources plummet to dangerously low levels, children’s health in the UK is at risk.

'Nursing shortages are clear across the board. More than ever, we need to build our children’s nursing workforce.

'If we don’t take care of our children now, we are building up even more problems for our future adult population. Our children deserve a strong, safe health service that is equipped to deliver the best care possible.'

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