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London Assembly hearing: recruiting and retaining the health workforce


5 Feb 2016

RCN London were invited to speak to the London Assembly Health Committee this week for a hearing on ‘Health workforce recruitment and retention in London’.

Sue Tarr, Operational Manager and Cynthia Davis, RCN Council Member and Chair of the London Board, joined a panel including speakers from the Royal College of GPs, the London Ambulance Service and NHS Employers.

The invitation followed the RCN’s warning earlier this year about the growing shortage of registered nursing staff here in the capital.

Sue highlighted how the cost of living is now preventing many nurses from working in London and spoke about a piece of work the RCN are supporting which examines where the nursing workforce lives in relation to London. Sue said: “If you cannot afford to live in London, at the end of a 12-hour day when you have been on your feet for 12 hours, you are then commuting and you are adding an hour or an hour-and-a-half to either end of your day. Also, the cost of travel, again, is a huge problem.”

Highlighting the added pressures nurses in the capital face, Cynthia said: “On top of the travel issues, there is also the effect of having done your shift and then the next person coming on is not there and you feel obliged to do a much longer day than you necessarily would choose to do because there is no one to replace you.

“That is a constant pressure that our members are telling us about and when you go into those departments that is what staff is saying, ‘No, we feel we need to do it and not because we want to, but we want to make sure the patients are going to be safe and our colleagues are supported’.”

Other subjects covered included:

  • The move for nursing to be a degree-based profession
  • Issue of staff shortages – what is the impact for the quality of service
  • Bank staff – a way of retaining nurses who want to work flexibly or starting families
  • Overseas recruitment
  • Changing and modernising recruitment

You can read the full transcript of the event as well as further information on the London Assembly website.

For more information about the work of RCN London please visit www.rcn.org.uk/london