At the recent STaR project advisory group meeting (15th January 2018), the research team, our STaR consultants and external advisors discussed ideas on how we might better support the transtion of newly qualified nurses into the workplace. There has been much in the national media recently reporting that the number of nurses leaving the profession is greater than those joining the register.
Recently Anne Marie Rafferty, Professor of Nursing Policy at Kings College London wrote an excellent piece for The Conversation which considered the reasons for the current issues related to nursing shortages including the removal of the bursary, the impact of the cap on agency nurses and Brexit and the lack of investment in nurse education. This has resulted in a ‘high workload, fast burnout’ culture which impacts directly on patient care.
We know that having qualified degree level nurses impacts positively on patient safety and how we retain the existing workforce including newly qualified nurses is a key element of workforce retention plans across the NHS. In Northern Ireland, the Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle has set out a series of initatives and plans designed to increase the nursing workforce, actively encourage nurse retention and promote safe staffing. This includes investment in nurse education (at pre and post qualifying levels), international recruitment and regional recruiment and retention groups.
There are no simple solutions to this current situation but the development of sustainable evidence based workforce plans not just for nurses but the healthcare workforce as a whole are key.