Shropshire Star

Hundreds of nursing vacancies in Shropshire hospitals

Hundreds of vacancies for nurses and midwives were posted by health organisations in the county last year, new figures have revealed.

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Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

The Royal College of Nurses has said its members are under "constant pressure" as a result of staff shortages, compromising patient care.

Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust, which runs Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital Telford (SaTH), The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, and Shropshire Community Health Trust (Shropcom), have all spoken of the challenges of recruiting nursing staff, who are in demand across the NHS.

SaTH advertised 276 of the openings between October 2017 and September 2018. The orthopaedic hospital put out adverts for 87 over the same period and Shropcom 177.

Across all trusts in England, just under 350,000 vacancies were posted over the year, with nearly 150,000 of them in nursing and midwifery.

RCN England director Patricia Marquis said underfunding and a lack of planning has severely depleted the nursing workforce.

She said: "Our members say they've been pushed from pillar to post. They feel anxious that they might make mistakes because of the constant pressure short staffing causes.

"The burden on the insufficient workforce leads to conditions in which experienced nurses consider leaving, and aspiring nurses think twice about their chosen career."

She added: "Shortages don't just make every hard-working healthcare worker's job more taxing and arduous. It has a clear impact on the safe and effective care of patients."

Nursing staff make up 30 per cent of the national workforce, but 42 per cent of vacancies.

Mark Brandreth, chief executive at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital spoke of his pride at the organisation's staff, and urged any nurses looking for jobs to contact them.

He said: “I am proud of the fantastic nurses we have at RJAH. I always say we have the best staff in the NHS, and I really mean that.

“Like all NHS trusts, we can find nurse recruitment a challenge as, quite simply, there are not enough to go around.

Shropshire Star comment:

“We do currently have a few vacancies on our surgical wards, in our theatres department and on our specialist spinal injuries unit, and I would encourage any newly-qualified nurses, or nurses looking for a change of scene, to check us out. We have just been rated Good overall by the CQC, and Outstanding for care – and our staff survey published earlier this week showed that our staff rated us as the number one specialist trust in the country to work at.”

Victoria Rankin, workforce director at SaTH said they are making efforts to recruit permanent nursing staff, to reduce the need to use agency staff.

She said: “The shortage of nursing staff is a challenge for the whole of the NHS. There are currently around 40,000 nursing vacancies across the country.

“To ensure we have the right number of people to care for our patients, we regularly need to rely on agency staff, but our ambition is to recruit permanent doctors and nurses to join us in our hospitals. This is far better than relying on agency staff who cost more money and cannot always provide the same continuity of care to our patients.

“We will attend a recruitment event in Dublin for nurses and midwives at the end of the month, we hold monthly ‘one-stop shops’ for nurses at both of our hospitals, when candidates can meet the teams, have an interview and come away with a provisional job offer on the same day and we have around 1,000 referrals to our recruitment website every month from key-word advertising.”

Steve Gregory, executive director of nursing and operations at Shropcom, also urged interested people to get in touch.

He said: “Nurse recruitment is a challenge for many organisations across the country, and we have managed to recruit to most of our vacancies in a timely way. Our advertisement for new staff can be as much about someone leaving as the development of a new or different service offer. We have also recently recruited staff to train as nurse associates that we see as a valuable addition to our workforce.

“We are always looking for good people who want to come and join our teams, while making sure the services we provide are safe for service users and deliver the high quality of care people would expect.

“Nursing is a rewarding role, where no two days are the same – whether that be within our adult services or our services for children and young people.

“We are currently advertising a variety of roles, including for a Community Staff Nurse in North Shropshire and for Staff Nurses to work in our Community Hospitals in Bishop’s Castle and Bridgnorth. We would encourage any nurses interested in joining us to take a look at these and other opportunities on the NHS Jobs website.”