Where Have All the Nurses Gone?
Where have all the nurses gone? In the middle of a winter crisis, why is the NHS so short of staff and how much is it costing to plug the gaps? Jane Deith reports.
Where have all the nurses gone? File on 4 looks at the reasons for the nursing shortage in the NHS in England and the cost of plugging the gaps at a time of peak demand.
A decision four years ago to cut training places to save money is still haunting the health service. There's no shortage of people wanting to be nurses but the NHS is badly understaffed.
Recruitment in countries like Spain, Portugal and Italy has quadrupled in the last year as NHS trusts fail to find enough domestic nurses. But with thousands of European nurses encouraged to come here with incentives like relocation bonuses and free accommodation, why are hospitals still breaking guidelines on the level of acceptable vacancies? And how much has that contributed to the winter crisis in Accident and Emergency Units across the country?
Hospitals aren't the only area of concern. Professional bodies like the RCN say there has been a reduction in the number of experienced senior nurses working in the community. Has the recent focus on increasing nurses on hospital wards meant other areas have suffered? And what impact will that have on the Government's long term plan to solve our hospital crisis by caring for more patients at home?
Reporter: Jane Deith Producer: Gemma Newby.