Patients are dying in the backs of ambulances or on trolleys in A&E while others languish in beds unable to be discharged due to the collapse in social care. Others waiting in pain are desperate to get a bed for much-needed surgery.
While there are many ingredients mixing together to create the current NHS crisis, a widespread shortage of nurses, doctors and other essential staff is one of the major contributory factors.
Many in the NHS reacted with disbelief on Tuesday after 280 MPs voted with the government to reject a bid to force through better workforce planning for the NHS.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt had pulled together a coalition of health organisations and charities who backed his proposal which demanded ministers draw up and publish workforce plans every two years.
Mr Hunt’s amendment fell victim to the fear of the cost of actually training enough doctors and nurses to work in the NHS.
The Treasury’s dead hand over NHS policy has and continues to be one of the biggest patient safety threats in the UK.
As Mr Hunt told MPs, the costs are borne not only from huge bills for locum doctors and nurses who earn incredible pay working alongside exhausted full-time staff, but also in the safety failures caused by staff shortages.
Exhausted nurses will make mistakes. One nurse cannot safely look after a ward of 16 elderly patients. A doctor can only see one patient at a time in A&E.
Speaking to MPs, Mr Hunt pleaded with the Commons to offer some hope to the NHS workforce.
He said NHS staff were “exhausted” but also “daunted” by the challenges they were seeing. He added: “All they ask is one simple request, that they can be confident we are training enough of them for the future.”
Source: The Independent, 23 November 2021