The challenges facing the NHS and social care system are extreme, and renewed emphasis is being placed on new models of care to meet the needs of an increasingly elderly population suffering from a wide range of complex conditions. These new care models depend on a future nursing workforce working across primary, community and acute care settings in multidisciplinary teams to deliver high quality care.
In this context, the need for a motivated workforce, supported by joined-up policy, has never been greater; yet nursing is being hit with a multitude of challenges. Years of fragmented workforce planning, pay restraints, and a lack of focus on workforce retention has led to a substantial shortage of nurses in both the NHS and social care, causing a reliance on the use of agency staff and spiralling staff costs. Despite this shortage, there has been a reduction in the number of commissioned student nursing places, and the nursing bursary has been cut. International recruitment is on the decline, and there is increased worry about the number of nurses retiring. Stress is high, morale is low, and there is a vital need for the NHS to recruit and retain nursing staff to tackle the ongoing nursing workforce crisis.
Our third debate asked a panel of policy experts and NHS leaders to debate how we can solve the nursing workforce crisis? The panel considered the following questions:
- How can we support and develop nursing staff to make the most of their skills and adapt to this changing environment?
- What impact will reforms to the nursing bursary have on future workforce planning?
- How will Brexit impact on our ability to attract highly-skilled nurses from abroad? Will staff shortages be exacerbated?
- Will the new nursing associate role help or hinder the search for a solution?