Susan Osborne: 2020 too late to solve nurse staffing crisis
The government’s pledge to fund an extra 10,000 training places is all well and good but those nurses are needed now, not in 2020, says safe staffing expert Susan Osborne.
The government’s pledge to fund an extra 10,000 training places is all well and good but those nurses are needed now, not in 2020, says safe staffing expert Susan Osborne
The year 2020 appears to be a magical one for the Department of Health. In early August it announced plans to fund an extra 10,000 training places for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals by 2020.
This commitment to fund clinical placements for thousands of nursing students at NHS trusts follows a previous promise to increase the number of places for medical students by up to 1,500 – also by 2020.
However, figures published in February by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service showed that the number of nursing degree applications had fallen by 23% in the past year, following the removal of the bursary for nursing students.
Too little, too late
These incentives from the DH are already too little, and if this trend continues they will also be far too late.
A recent analysis from the RCN showed that nine out of ten of the 50 largest NHS trusts in England, which together run 150 hospitals, are missing their own safe staffing targets.
More than half of these hospitals tried to cope with the staffing crisis by using more unregistered support staff than planned, with 67% increasing their numbers of unregistered staff on night shifts.
The staffing crisis is happening now, that much is abundantly clear. If we wait until 2020, it will be too late.
Susan Osborne is chair of the Safe Staffing Alliance