The future of nursing

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2012 Health Care Service Group Conference
16 December 2011

Conference notes that many health employers across the UK continue to target the nursing wages bill for cuts, and are using unsustainable tactics, such as freezing posts, not replacing registered nurses when they leave or retire and converting vacant registered nurse posts to lower grades and lower salaries.

In the meantime, student nurses are being exploited by employers seeking to fill gaps in staffing, and are expected to undertake duties for which they are not qualified, putting both their careers and patients lives at risk.

Further, whilst student nurse training continues, graduating nurses are unable to find employment in the NHS due to the cutbacks in staffing, forcing them to seek work overseas or to leave nursing, wasting the UK’s investment in their training and adding further to the inevitable skill gap caused by the ageing nursing workforce – a demographic time bomb which may have devastating consequences for the future of patient care.

Conference welcomes the internship scheme available to newly qualified nurses in Scotland, which, whilst not ideal, offers a lifeline to those nurses unable to find immediate employment on graduating, and enables them to build additional skills and experience to assist in their search for permanent employment.

Conference therefore calls upon the Service Group Executive to:

1)lobby the government to ensure that the NHS continues to educate, and take effective measures to retain, sufficient numbers of nurses and midwives to meet society’s health care needs into the future;

2)issue updated guidance to student nurse members on their rights and obligations, recognising the pressures they may be facing to take responsibility for duties beyond their ability.