Sustainable Nursing Workforce

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2016 Health Care Service Group Conference
10 December 2015

Nursing across the UK is facing the perfect storm of increased demand and diminishing resources. A decision by the previous coalition government to slash the pre-registration commission numbers for student nurses has had catastrophic consequences for the NHS now.

The age profile of our current nursing workforce means that an average organisation could lose up to 30% of its current nursing and midwifery workforce due to retirement over the next five years. At the same time we are experiencing a reduction in young people choosing to join the profession.

With people living longer with more complex conditions and comorbidity the nursing workforce faces an increased demand to provide complex care to individuals over more and more extended periods of time, in a variety of settings; all of which must have the right numbers of staff with the correct level of skilled knowledge in order to deliver dignified compassionate care.

We need to meet this challenge on several fronts:

i)Encourage young workers to join the profession by paying students a salary while they are undertaking their training and to provide a clear career pathway on graduation. This we believe will end the post code lottery of training variation across the UK

ii)Develop new nursing roles that meet the demands of our ageing population ensuring that re-profiled roles are remunerated appropriately. Our wider HCA family have a vital and important role to play in care delivery however we have to stop exploiting their role

iii)Maintain our use of overseas nurses on a planned basis to provide a much needed flow of experienced staff into our nursing workforce. It is essential that nursing remains on the Governments occupational shortage list for a longer period of time.

iv)We need to value our nursing & midwifery leaders – good leaders take their staff with them, they work as part of their team and are a clear visible & supportive presence. However they do not share the same level of recognition as their medical colleagues, in any other form this would be considered discriminatory and must be addressed.

Therefore we call on the Service Group Executive to work with the UK Governments and NHS Employers to develop a sustainable workforce plan that addresses the demands and challenges of our changing population and to re-engineer a nursing workforce that meets the needs of a modern NHS.