Where have all the British nurses gone?

Wycombe Labour today asks where all the British nurses have gone and why Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust is recruiting anywhere it can – Portugal, India, the Philippines – to find nurses willing to work for the Trust. 

Papers from the Trust show that  
- The Trust’s spend for the first 4 months of the year has been £4 million more than budgeted.  
- One of the major causes of the overspend has been the cost of temporary staff - £12million so far and forecast to double to £26 million by the end of the financial year.   
- One of the main causes of the overspend for temporary staff has been in retaining and recruiting qualified nurses.   One in eight of the posts for qualified nurses are vacant.   The Trust is spending about £1.4 million a month on temporary nurses.  
- The Trust is trying to recruit about 20 qualified nurses in Portugal.
- The Trust has gone out to tender for an international (non EU) recruitment campaign for up to 150 nurses from for example India and the Philippines.  Nurses from these non-EU countries need visas and current immigration rules severely
restrict the number of visas issued.   
- The Trust’s difficulty in attracting permanent staff, and balancing its books, is common to many Trusts; all are trying to recruit in the same market.
Linda Derrick, Wycombe Labour’s spokesperson on health, said “This Government is putting the Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust in an impossible position.    
The Government has cut the funding for the training of nurses so there aren’t enough qualified British nurses entering the labour market.   
Nursing posts aren’t filled or are filled with temporary staff.  This puts pressure on experienced staff who leave.   
The Trust is forced to spend more money recruiting nurses, including the expense of recruiting in the EU alongside all the other Trusts in the same position.    
It is also forced to spend money paying for expensive temporary staff.  
The Trust is then on red alert as it sees itself going over budget.   
It tries to recruit nurses internationally but the Government won’t grant visas.  
And to cap it all – literally - the Government has now put a cap on the Trust’s spending on temporary staff.
So the Government creates the problem.    And then the Government stops the Trust from solving the problem by every means it has.   
As we go into the winter the Trust will be forced to leave nursing posts vacant.  We all know what will happen – chaos in A&E and longer waiting lists, more stress for nurses and more leaving.   
But the Government doesn’t care because it will simply privatise the lot.  And Steve Baker, Wycombe’s MP, will get what he has been planning for years”.

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