Nurse shortages are likely to get worse because of the current pressures facing the NHS, the body representing West Norfolk-based staff has warned.
The claim was made after a new Commons briefing paper showed Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) had an average of between 99 and 100 per cent bed occupancy in the first full week of 2017.
The figures cover the week ending January 8, the day before extra staff were drafted into the Gayton Road site to help meet demand.
Now, officials from the Royal College of Nursing’s eastern branch have demanded extra investment to support the profession.
Teresa Budrey, the college’s interim regional director, said this week: “The future of nursing is at stake.
“We have heard from frontline nurses who want to provide the best care they can for their patients but are being forced to act in a way which is not in the best interests of those they are caring for.
“We know our members are frustrated and disturbed when they see patients having to be treated in corridors, waiting in ambulances outside hospitals and not cared for in the way we’d wish for our own loved-ones.
“Across the country there are already 24,000 vacant nursing posts and we can only expect the situation to worsen. Nurses have spoken of wanting to leave the profession due to pressures such as those being experienced.”
The college says ministers should reinstate student funding for trainee nurses and remove the current one per cent pay cap on salaries.
And North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham agreed the bursary issue should be reviewed.
He said: “Jeremy Hunt needs to look at that with an open mind. I feel that very strongly.
“If you’re putting excessive burdens on young graduate nurses, a lot will come out of the profession.”
He added that, while training new staff in this country was “essential”, care providers should also have the option to recruit the best talent from overseas, despite future immigration restrictions.
He also questioned whether more could be done to attract former staff back into the profession. The QEH has run a long-running recruitment campaign in that and other areas.