Advising with empathy and experience

Hospitals struggling to recruit nurses.


The vast majority of hospitals in England are struggling to recruit enough nurses, figures show.

Around 92% of the 225 acute hospital trusts in England did not manage to run wards with their planned number of nurses during the day in August 2016.

The figures, published by the NHS, show that hospitals in England are falling short of their own targets for levels of safe staffing.

The Department of Health said staffing is a priority and 50,000 nurses are currently being trained.

Analysis shows average staffing levels across the 225 acute hospital sites in August was worse than in January, when 85% of hospitals missed their staffing targets for nurses working during the day.

The figures also showed 81% of hospitals failed to have enough registered nurses working at night.  A total of 79% of hospitals missed their target for registered nurse staffing across both day and night.

Many hospitals have had to rely heavily on overseas recruitment as well as agency staff to provide safe staffing levels and the right mix of skills.

The government is scrapping the cap on how many nurses can go into training, which it has said will help boost numbers.

However student nurse bursaries are being replaced by loans that unions warn could deter people from choosing a career in nursing.

Royal College of Nursing chief executive, Janet Davies, said hospitals were trying to catch up on their staffing levels.

She said: "We went through a period when we were trying to save money. We cut posts, we didn't train enough nurses and we're still feeling the effect of that.

"We've got to catch up but we also have to keep the nurses we've already got. It's great to train people but our experienced nurses are leaving because they're overtired - it's a vicious circle."

She said nurses were "exhausted" at the end of their shifts and often having to stay late to provide extra care.

She added: "They do get very concerned because they know what they should be doing for patients and if they can't, it's really upsetting."