As Brexit looms on the horizon and we anticipate brisk changes within our political climate, it becomes more and more crucial to address the growing concern for the NHS, the drastic shortage in nurses and the future of UK healthcare.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, EU nationals taking jobs in the health and social care sector has increased by a whopping 72% in eight years, with 209,000 EU nationals currently employed in comparison to the 120,000 in 2009. Not only does this present increased pressure for the NHS when attempting to determine the post-Brexit effect on workforce but it also discourages EU workers from joining the NHS since their future in the UK is likely to be insecure. Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary for public services has said, ‘Care workers often do incredibly tough jobs and we rely on people of all nationalities to keep the system functioning’. If nurses from EU and non-EU countries stop coming to the UK, the Independent claims that within six years there would be a nursing staff shortage of between 26,000 and 42,000.
Though the issue of EU employment is a pressing one, the shortage of nurses in the UK stems from the recent retirement of baby boomers coinciding with the growing need for nursing care. So how do we encourage young people to enter nursing and to consider a career in the health care sector when we provide no incentives for them to do so? Addressing issues of pay, shift patterns and hours, working conditions and work-life balance is imperative to re-building the NHS and its workforce, according to the Narrowing the Gap report discussed in recent months by Nursing Times.
Another way to combat the nursing shortage would be to encourage more men into the profession and break the stigma that nursing is solely a career for women. Both The Atlantic and the Chicago Tribune recently discussed the fall in employment options in the Midwest of the US, and how men are finding new careers in healthcare. Encouraging more men into nursing would aid the shortage in applicants as well as implementing new dialogues surrounding gender politics not only in health care, but all industry sectors.
What do you think of the nursing shortage? Do you have ideas on how political leaders can rectify these issues? Join the convo on Facebook and Twitter. Or if you’re a registered nurse looking for opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0141 212 5130.