imagesCAQKTCWRKate Liptrot (, 5 January 2015) quoted Glenn Turp, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) for Yorkshire and the Humber: “Nurses from overseas have always made a valuable contribution to the NHS, but the RCN is concerned that recent years have seen a worrying over-reliance on them.

“Many employers are now waking up to the fact that care can only be safe when you have enough nursing staff, but due to the cuts in training places which happened over a period of years the UK is just not producing the nurses it needs. We really need a long term solution that trains and retains the skilled staff we need to care for our own – not the sticking plaster solution that goes overseas to recruit nurses for short term gaps.”

The same article also quotes Dr Mick Phythian, a spokesman for York Defend Our NHS: “It’s sad we have come to this having been so poor at training nurses over the past years, and at stages even making them redundant. Now we are having to deprive another country of their nurses.”

The NHS Qualified Nurse Supply and Demand Survey (2014) gives some insight into what managers of Hospital Trusts would like to see  in terms of the training student nurses receive.:

More flexible ways to train to be an RGN whilst in service.

We also require specific training programmes for HCAs to allow them to take on additional duties which will give a new skill mix.

Review of nursing training to return to allocation by Trust to enable closer relationship with future workforce.

Bursaries to support Associate Practitioners in nurse training programmes.

As a community trust it would be beneficial if training providers could cover more in relation to skill and competency of managing out of hospital care.

That on completion of their training, newly qualified nurses are expected to work a first year in the hospital that provided their training.

Emphasis currently seems to be on pre-reg training (i.e. how many nurses are in the system) when actually we need to be thinking about the increasing specialisation of nurses in order to care.

In the short term we will need to be creative in role development nationally and locally. A pathway for non registered nursing to registered nursing with appropriate training pathways and funding streams would support long term gaps.

A summary of this survey might fairly be: We just want people who can competently do specific (specialised) nursing jobs at the cheapest rate. That is, an American system of a lower cost workforce masquarading as ‘skills mix’.

So, everything in the nursing garden is not rosy. But, wait a minute, doesn’t those very impressive statistics which show that almost all newly qualified nurses are employed as nurses 6 months after completing their course show that the student nursing garden is blooming. Not so. These are statistics for dummies, doled out by a branch of the propaganda machine – the statistics for ’employment’ are not actually that; they are projections of ‘the most common job types students do six months after finishing the course’! Does anyone this side of Pluto believe the government track the whereabouts of former nursing students to ask them what they are currently doing, or whether they actually want to remain in nursing? They do not, as confirmed by a DH official (by email) when asked this question.

The Goebbels-like ‘statistics of success’also massage the fact that many newly qualified nurses are given 6 month temporary contracts, then dismissed, to make way for the next batch off the ‘newly qualified nurse’ conveyor belt of cheap labour.

Of course, such final year students are survivors, rather like those horses that finish the Grand National, usually knackered by the demands of combining placements with academic work. The national average of drop-out for nursing courses is 20%, when taking out the top 10% of nursing courses, in terms of the least drop-outs, the average drop-out figure for the remaining courses is 25%. (See previous article). Averages iron out the truly horrendous, of course – 40% of nursing students on some courses run for the exit door! Can’t imagine why!

The employment of newly qualified nurses in nursing varies widely across the country; but a most definite theme is that many Hospital Trusts specify the need for experience in the posts they advertise; it is only necessary to check the online job notice boards of 20 of the largest Trust Hospitals over a 6 month time period to ascertain this.

Those who would like to delve further beneath the cheap gloss that covers nursing might be interested to know that statistics also show that at some nurse training universities the satisfaction level with the course is just over 50%; ‘feedback on work to clarify things I did not understand’- 25%! These figures are also likely to be bullshit – having been a guest lecturer at one of these establishments, I can assure everyone that these reported ‘satisfaction levels’ seem astronomically high when compared to the dejected look I witnessed on students’ faces.
lenin nightingale 2015