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More staff from Far East heading to Ipswich to ease nursing shortages

PUBLISHED: 08:12 29 September 2017

Ipswich Hospital. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Ipswich Hospital. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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The main nurses’ union has warned that patient care across East Anglia is being compromised because of a lack of staff.

Meanwhile it has emerged that staff from the Ipswich Hospital Trust have been on three trips to The Philippines to try to rectuit more nurses.

A survey of more than 30,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing across the UK – including over 1,650 in the Eastern region – asked about staffing levels on their most recent shift.

The RCN said patient care was being compromised due to shortages of nurses and support staff, according to RCN members across the East of England.

57% of respondents in the Eastern region (Suffolk, Cambs, Beds, Herts, Norfolk and Essex) reported that there was a shortfall of one or more registered nurses on their last shift.

And 45% of respondents in the region reported that there was a shortfall of one or more health care support workers on their last shift.

More than half of Eastern region respondents (54%) felt that patient care was compromised on their last shift. The most common reasons given for compromised care were not having enough nurses or health care support workers, as well as having an increased number of patients who required a greater intensity of nursing care.

The findings come after RCN members across Suffolk have spent the last four months campaigning for an end to pay restraint for nursing staff which has contributed to many leaving the profession and leaving worrying gaps in the workforce.

The RCN is calling on the boards of health and social care providers across the UK to urgently review nurse staffing levels, give public assurances on patient safety and take action where standards are not met.

Teresa Budrey, RCN Eastern Regional Director, said: “We know that nursing staff believe that quality of care is better when there are fewer patients for every registered nurse on a shift. This has been backed up by research.

“It is concerning that so many of our members in the East of England have reported staffing shortages on their shifts, and even more worrying that they believe patient care is suffering as a result.

“Our campaign urging the Government to scrap the cap on nursing pay rises has highlighted that pay restraint is a major factor driving the recruitment and retention problems which are linked to the staffing shortages currently being experienced.

“Action needs to be taken now to ensure nursing staff are fairly rewarded for the work that they do.”

A report at Thursday’s meeting of the hospital board said there had been three trips to The Philippines at the end of last year and this year which had resulted in job offers being made to 255 nurses to work at Ipswich Hospital.

Not all will eventually work at the hospital – and they are set to arrive in small groups over a period of time. So far 19 have already arrived with the next six due to arrive in November.

Filipino nurses have been coming to Ipswich since the turn of the century. A spokeswoman said: “We still have some of our first nurses from the Philippines who came over here 17 years ago. One of our senior matrons is one of the first to have come here.”

She said the hospital recruited Filipino nurses because of the shortage of new recruits in this country and because The Philippines trains more nurses than it has room for in its hospitals.

Once offers were made there was a stringent set of exams that nurses had to pass before they could work in Britain – and they had to obtain the necessary work visas. That process could take months, if not years, and the nurses offered jobs after the visits last year could be arriving in small groups over the next few years.

The spokeswoman said: “There is a good Filipino community here now – they have their own church services and they are able to support each other.”

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