'Patients could pay the highest price' with dozens of nursing vacancies in Weston
PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 February 2018
A 'desperate' shortage of nurses means dozens of positions are vacant at Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT), leading union bosses to slam the Government's handling of a 'crisis'.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said the Government ‘must act now’ after NHS Digital figures revealed as few as 15 per cent of advertised nursing roles in the South West were filled last year, leaving thousands of positions vacant across the region.
WHAT, which oversees Weston General Hospital among other care provisions in the town, has 40 vacant roles out of 235 nursing posts – a 17 per cent shortfall.
RCN chief executive Janet Davies believes the Government is ‘allowing nursing on the cheap’ and ‘patients could pay the highest price’.
She said: “It is time to draw a line under this false economy with urgent investment – including a pay rise above inflation – and legislation to make ministers accountable for workforce planning and safe staffing levels.”
RCN South West director Jeannett Martin added: “These figures are further proof the NHS is desperately short of nurses. The Government can no longer deny the staffing crisis and must act now to address the problem.
“The NHS is busier than ever and is losing experienced nurses quicker than it can find new ones. Long-serving staff are feeling demoralised and pushed to leave nursing in droves.
“Record pressure, inadequate funding to provide safe care, poor pay for staff and the prospect of huge debt from training is putting people off joining the profession.”
Natasha Goswell, WAHT deputy director, told of the extensive recruitment efforts undertaken to plug Weston’s staffing shortfall.
She said: “Nurses are educated to degree level, highly skilled and undergo years of specialist training. There is a national shortage of nurses and it affects all NHS organisations.
“We use many different approaches to address the national nurse shortage.
“We nurture our own student nurses encouraging them to join Weston when they qualify, network with academic institutions training the next cohort of nurses, attend national recruitment fairs, and actively recruit from the South West and all over the UK.
“We have also recruited internationally. Most recently we welcomed nurses from Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece who are an integral part of our workforce.”