Nursing shortages need to be tackled, Black Country MP warns
Nursing shortages across the region need to be addressed to prevent patient care from deteriorating, a politician has warned.
Wolverhampton South West MP Eleanor Smith has spoken out about the declining numbers of nurses working within NHS services across the Black Country.
The former surgical theatre nurse has warned the region could be heading to a "crisis", with a lack of skilled young nurses taking up posts when others retire.
Ms Smith, who recently celebrated her daughter Abigail graduating from Birmingham City University with a BSc in adult nursing, said: "There are almost 40,000 vacant nursing posts in the NHS in England. Without policy and funding intervention, this will grow to almost 48,000 by 2023.
"One of the things that I have been concerned about for a long period is the level of staffing - it's putting a lot of pressure on the staff already working.
"In every hospital, there is a shortage of some kind. You don't know if there's going to be enough staff on one shift, and there's sickness and stress.
"All of this is having an impact on the type of care we want to offer. The care that we want to have, we won't be able to get if this continues."
The MP, who worked as a nurse for 40 years before turning to politics, said policy makers in the UK need to focus on the "long term impact" of staffing shortages.
A 'workforces minister' could be established as part of efforts to encourage recruitment drives and tackle problematic vacant posts, she claimed.
Ms Smith also said the student nurses bursary, scrapped by the Government in 2016 and replaced with a student loan system, needs to be re-instated.
She added: "[When the bursary was removed] £1.2 billion was taken out of healthcare higher education.
"I demand this bursary back. I want Boris Johnson to address this and see that there is a legal change to ensure that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whoever he chooses, has responsibility and accountability for NHS workforce planning and supply in England.
"For a health and care system as complex as ours, it is easy for everyone to lose sight of making sure that we have enough people. And clearly, this is exactly what has happened."