arrow_up-blue blog branches consultations events facebook-icon facebook-icon2 factsheet forum-icon forum hands key link location lock mail measure menu_plus news pdf pdf2 phone policies publications related search share subjectguide twitter-icon word instagram-icon youtube-icon
The Peoples People

Help end the nursing workforce crisis in England

Safe staffing saves lives

Nurses are the beating heart of our health and care services. They care for us in hospital, at our local GP surgery and in our own homes. But nursing staff shortages in England have reached alarming levels.

This means that essential care can be left undone - patients waiting in corridors and vital treatments delayed. When a service is short of staff, they have no option but to carry on. Our members and their colleagues do their best every day, working above and beyond, but even in a profession you love, the pressure is unsustainable.

We need investment now to recruit more nursing staff into the profession, and a change in law to protect patient care and nursing staff in the future. You can help us put pressure on the Government to fix this.

How can I help?

There are a number of ways you can help us with the our Safe Staffing campaign. Here are some actions you can take immediately:

Sign our petition

> Sign our petition

Don't let your voice go unheard. Take two minutes to sign our petition calling on the Government to fix the nursing workforce crisis in England.
Become an e-campaigner

> Become an e-campaigner

You'll receive a monthly email with a quick and easy online action you can take to help us make sure we have safe staffing levels in England.

Right now, nursing needs investment. We’re calling on the Government to invest at least £1bn per year into nursing higher education to attract more people to study nursing and support current students with their courses.

We’re also campaigning to get accountability for safe staffing written into law in England. It means having a legal framework that clarifies roles, responsibilities, and accountability for the supply, recruitment, retention and pay of nursing staff and the wider workforce.

We want:

> The secretary of state for health and social care to have a specific legal duty to ensure there are enough nursing staff to meet the health needs of the population

> National NHS bodies to have a legal duty for workforce planning so that they know how many nurses and nursing staff are needed to deliver health care services

> Commissioners to have a legal duty to understand local care needs and plan staffing to meet these needs

> Providers to have a legal duty to deliver safe and effective services.

This framework should be included in a national workforce strategy produced by the Government which is fully funded and ensures growth and development of the health and care workforce in England.

There is currently no legal accountability for provision of staffing for taxpayer funded services. 

What’s more, a lack of financial support for students on nursing degrees has resulted in a worrying decline in the number of people applying to study nursing in England. 

For over a decade, our members have been warning the Government about the risks associated with not addressing the nursing shortage.

Nurses are relying on the Government to take urgent action to fix the wider workforce crisis, and they need your help to do this.

What have our members achieved so far?

Following the success in Wales, which became the first country in Europe to enshrine safe staffing in law, and the progress made in Scotland, we’re now campaigning for legislation to guarantee nurse staffing levels in England across all sectors and settings. Members in England recently responded to a consultation on current NHS legislation to raise that workforce was missing from the plans.

We've brought together members, accredited reps and RCN staff from across our nine English regions to develop our campaign in England. It's based around five key principles for UK safe staffing, which have been developed in consultation with staff, members and other experts in the field. 
The campaign is being led by members in every English region so there will be lots of opportunities to get involved over the coming year.

Danielle Tiplady

It’s vital that this work is driven and led by members. We're the ones on the frontline and we are the ones that know what will work.