Royal College of Nurses: East Lancs hospitals under "constant pressure" as nursing and midwifery vacancies soar

Vacancies in nursing and midwifery at East Lancashire Hospitals have soared over the past year, NHS Digital data reveals.
Burnley General HospitalBurnley General Hospital
Burnley General Hospital

The Royal College of Nurses says their members are under "constant pressure" as a result of staff shortages, compromising patient care. The latest figures show 437 job openings for nurses and midwives were advertised by the trust between July and September 2018.

That's 62% more than over the same period in 2017, when 269 were posted. As of September 2018, the trust employed 7,373 full-time staff, including 2,269 nursing staff and 721 doctors and dentists.

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Nurses and midwives made up 31% of the workforce, but 71% of the 614 positions advertised over the three months. The number of openings for doctors and dentists at East Lancashire Hospitals also rose - from 47 to 62.

Overall, the number of jobs advertised at the trust rose by 40%, from 438 to 614. Across all NHS trusts in England, vacancies for nurses and midwives rose by 11% over a year, while the total for all staff rose by 7%.

RCN England director Patricia Marquis said underfunding and a lack of planning has severely depleted the nursing workforce. She said: "Our members say they've been pushed from pillar to post. They feel anxious that they might make mistakes because of the constant pressure short staffing causes.

"The burden on the insufficient workforce leads to conditions in which experienced nurses consider leaving, and aspiring nurses think twice about their chosen career," she added. "Shortages don't just make every hard-working healthcare worker's job more taxing and arduous; it has a clear impact on the safe and effective care of patients."

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The RCN urged politicians to provide more funding for higher education in nursing and introduce legislation to crack down on unsafe staffing levels. A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Record numbers of dedicated NHS staff work tirelessly to make sure patients get excellent, safe care.

"We are supporting them by opening 25% more training places for doctors, nurses and midwives, giving a significant pay rise to over a million staff, and listening to the issues that matter to them.”