The crises predicted in June 2013, that the NHS will experience a chronic shortage of nurses within the next three years has already arrived as the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust announced yesterday it was being forced to look abroad after struggling to recruit enough nurses to fill vacancies and reduce the need to hire expensive agency staff.
The Trust currently employs just over 700 staff nurses at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) and Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) in Telford; figures show they spent in the region of £750,000 alone in June to hire agency nurses to fill the gaps which currently amounts to a shortage of nearly 60 full-time nurses.
A recruitment drive, for new staff nurses is under way by the Trust, with the search stretching to across the UK and as far as Portugal and Spain.
The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Sarah Bloomfield, director of nursing and quality at the trust, said:
“We are looking to recruit new staff nurses locally and will also be looking at recruitment in other parts of the country and on mainland Europe.
“The care of our patients is at the heart of everything we do and we’re looking for caring and compassionate people who want to provide the best care possible at our hospitals.”
John Kirk, trust spokesman, said:
“Overseas recruitment like this is just one avenue we are exploring. We are also looking to recruit locally and elsewhere in the UK. It will be an ongoing process of recruitment to reduce our current spending on agency staff.”
It comes as part of a recognised national shortage of staff nurses which affects hospitals right across the UK. The original dire warning in June 2013 came from the government-backed Centre for Workforce Intelligence, who predicted the NHS is likely to have 47,500 fewer nurses than it needs by 2016. The analysis made bleak reading for members of the profession who at the time had already been reporting growing staff shortages in their care settings, as trusts seek to trim paybills in an effort to balance their books.
It also came shortly after fresh concerns that the health service is failing to provide more care into the community and is experiencing unsustainable demand on accident and emergency departments as a result. The CfWI report warned:
“Employers have a real challenge to plan and sustain the supply and demand of the future nursing workforce at a time of financial constraint.”
It concluded that the most likely scenario would see a 47,545 shortage of registered nurses by 2016, created by a 5% drop in the supply of nurses and a 3% increase in demand. Although this was considered the most likely outcome, the centre noted a range of possible scenarios based on its predictions. These ranged from a nursing shortage of 0.6% by 2016 to one of 11%. This 11% worst case scenario would see a shortage of around 190,000 nurses, as we revealed in February when some of the initial findings from the research were shared with Nursing Times.