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Call for action over nursing recruitment crisis across East of England

PUBLISHED: 19:56 17 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:56 17 January 2018

More nurses are leaving the profession than entering. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

More nurses are leaving the profession than entering. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

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Nearly nine nurses a day are leaving the NHS across the East of England, new figures reveal.

Teresa Budrey, eastern regional director of the Royal College of Nursing. Picture: RCNTeresa Budrey, eastern regional director of the Royal College of Nursing. Picture: RCN

A record number of European nurses in the region are quitting the profession amid growing anxiety around Brexit.

The statistics from NHS Digital show from September 2016 to September 2017, 3,085 nurses in the east gave up their jobs, while 2,933 new ones started.

This was the first time since 2012/13 that the number of leavers outweighed the starters.

In 2016/17, 537 nurses in this region who originate from countries in the European Union walked out the door.

Jan Bloomfield, director of workforce and communications at West Suffolk Hospital. Picture: PHIL MORLEYJan Bloomfield, director of workforce and communications at West Suffolk Hospital. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Teresa Budrey, director of the Royal College of Nursing in the east, said: “There aren’t enough nurses to deliver safe care and our nurses tell us about the pressures they face daily.

“The messages we are getting are: we are always working short staffed every shift, we are staying late, we are having to treat patients in corridors.

“All the senior nurses are down in departments working which they normally wouldn’t be doing just to cover shifts that are not covered. It’s not surprising nurses are leaving.”

Ms Budrey called for “urgent” investment in the NHS and reinstatement of university nursing bursaries.

Ipswich Hospital's director of nursing, Lisa Nobes. 
Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNIpswich Hospital's director of nursing, Lisa Nobes. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Government also needs to give clear assurance to European nurses about their status post-Brexit, Ms Budrey added.

Between January 2017 and January this year, 86 registered nurses left the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, and 59 joined.

This summer 55 registered nurses from the Philippines will start at the trust.

Jan Bloomfield, director of workforce and communications, said West Suffolk offered employees flexible-working where possible, a dedicated occupational health and physiotherapy service and 24/7 counselling support to maintain “a happy and healthy workforce”.

The hospital is planning to establish a nursing apprenticeship programme in the near future.

Speaking to the BBC, Lisa Nobes, director of nursing at Ipswich Hospital, said four nurses a month were leaving the trust, and there were around 120-140 nursing vacancies.

She added: “I think it does cause a lot of pressure and unfortunately it means to make sure patients are safe we have to move nurses from ward to ward on an hourly or daily basis.”


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