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Jane Bates: Nurse leaders need to start telling it like it really is 

An investigation by the BBC, based on figures released by NHS Digital, shows nurses are leaving the profession in droves. This was an opportunity for senior nurse leaders to speak out about the overwhelming stress and financial struggles faced by today’s nurses, but they blew it, says Jane Bates

An investigation by the BBC, based on figures released by NHS Digital, shows nurses are leaving the profession in droves. This was an opportunity for senior nurse leaders to speak out about the overwhelming stress and financial struggles faced by today’s nurses, but they blew it, says Jane Bates


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Well, would you credit it. Nurses, the flat-pack furniture of the NHS – cheap, unremarkable but able to get the job done – were the top item on the national news.

An investigation by the BBC revealed that more nurses are leaving the register than joining, with nurses under age 40 quitting the NHS in unprecedented numbers, and  all over the country we had our ears on stalks, waiting for someone to explain why.

We hoped our representatives would speak with conviction about the overwhelming burden of stress heaped on us, about our financial struggles, and the bullying and lack of respect.

But no. Apart from RCN chief executive Janet Davies, hardly anyone mentioned pay. Nor was much said about the emotional and physical strain.

A chance to make our case

Then the so-called experts came to the fore, point scoring and blaming Brexit, which we all know is a spurious argument. They also blamed the ditching of student bursaries, which of course is catastrophic but its impact has yet to be felt.

Politicians, as ever, blamed each other, but few stood up and explained the real reasons for the mass exodus. That was left to two nurses on BBC Question Time.

We have a duty to make a stand, not just on behalf of the nursing profession but for the good of the patients we care for every day. But we blew it. We wasted the opportunity.

For a brief moment we had a chance to make our case, but it fizzled out like a damp squib because no one was able to tell it like it is.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

 

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