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news | analysis | noticeboard | web scan | policy briefing
Barney Newman
New campaign to
promote nursing
RCN warns nine in ten largest
NHS hospitals short of nurses
Government accused of encouraging ‘nursing on the cheap’
By Kat Keogh
ine in ten of England’s 50
largest NHS hospital trusts
are not staffed with nurses
to the level planned by their
own management, the RCN says.
An analysis by the college confirms that
hospitals are putting more unregistered
support staff on shift to cope with the
shortage of registered nurses.
NHS data show that substitution is
particularly prevalent on night shifts,
when two thirds of the largest hospital
trusts put more healthcare assistants
(HCAs) on the wards than planned.
Previous studies have shown that
mortality rates rise significantly when
the number of fully trained and
registered nurses is reduced and the
number of less skilled staff is increased.
The RCN analysis follows research
by the college highlighting 40,000 nurse
vacancies across the NHS in England.
RCN general secretary Janet Davies
(pictured) said: ‘These startling figures
show that despite the government’s
6 / September 2017 / volume 24 number 5
rhetoric our largest hospitals still do not
have enough nurses, and this is putting
patients at risk. They are resorting to
filling wards with unregistered HCAs,
especially at night, just to cope with
the shortage.
‘Patients can pay the highest price
when the government encourages
“nursing on the cheap”. It is unfair on
the HCA too; they should not be left in
a situation they have not been trained to
handle. Nurses have degrees and expert
training, and, to be blunt, the evidence
shows patients stand a better chance of
survival and recovery when there are
more of them on the ward.’
Responding to the figures, a
Department of Health spokesperson
said: ‘Just this month we announced an
extra 10,000 places for nurses, midwives
and allied health professionals by 2020,
and there are over 12,500 more nurses
on our wards since 2010.’
See analysis, page 8
Nurses are too often ‘invisible, taken
for granted and prevented from
being as effective as they could be’,
according to a former health minister
and NHS leader.
Speaking exclusively to RCNi’s
Nursing Standard, Nigel Crisp, chair
of the UK all‑party parliamentary
group (APPG) on global health,
said a new global campaign he is
spearheading to raise the profile of
nursing will help tackle the issue.
The Nursing Now! campaign is
intended to build on the findings of
last year’s APPG triple impact report,
which highlights the need to develop
the nursing profession.
First announced at the International
Council of Nurses (ICN) congress in
May, the campaign will be launched
officially in January 2018, after funding
and programmes are in place.
The Nursing Now! steering group,
which includes RCN general secretary
Janet Davies and ICN chief executive
Frances Hughes, agreed at a meeting
in London in July that the three-year
campaign would:
»» Promote the influence of nursing
and develop nurse leadership.
»» Provide evidence of the beneficial
effect of nurses and encourage
»» Support nursing as a route for
women’s empowerment.
»» Demonstrate the effect of nursing
in policy.
Although the campaign is run through
the APPG, from October it will become
part of UK charity, the Burdett Trust
for Nursing. An executive director
will be appointed in the autumn and
Lord Crisp said it was anticipated it
would have a high-profile patron and
global ambassadors.
Nursing Now! will conclude with a
report on progress in 2020 as part of
the celebrations for the bicentenary
of Florence Nightingale’s birth.
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