There are not enough nurses to safely care for patients in the UK, according to the body that represents the profession, and many of those who are working are suffering from anxiety and burnout after a gruelling nine months treating Covid patients.
A year after the prime minister pledged during the 2019 election campaign to add 50,000 nurses to the NHS, the Royal College of Nursing has accused Boris Johnson of being “disingenuous” for claiming the government is meeting this 2025 target.
Johnson claimed last week that the government had “14,800 of the 50,000 nurses already” during prime minister’s questions in the Commons.
Yet the latest NHS figures show there were 36,655 vacancies for nursing staff in England in September, with the worst shortages affecting mental health care and acute hospitals. Staff in some intensive care units (ICUs) have quit since the pandemic, with those whom the Observer spoke to choosing to work instead in supermarkets or as dog-walkers.
Dame Donna Kinnair, the RCN’s chief executive and general secretary, said: “The simple, inescapable truth is that we do not have enough nursing staff in the UK to safely care for patients in hospitals, clinics, their own homes or anywhere else.”
She said that even before the pandemic, “heavy demand” was rising faster than the “modest increases” in staff numbers.
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Source: The Guardian, 12 December 2020