Worsening Nursing Shortage and Skill Mix

09/09/10 – 10090905 – UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND HAMILTON Nursing students in different scenarios

I have commented on this before in this Blog but finally it seems to have caught the attention of the mainstream press. The BBC reported yesterday that there is a shortage of nurses in the UK which will continue for years to come and could get worse.


The warnings follow after a report from early 2016 on the nursing workforce compiled by the Institute for Employment Studies for the Migration Advisory Committee was published. It might have been published sooner but apparently it was held back because of a certain referendum. I wonder why?   In it the authors cite the ageing workforce, poor planning by government and the risks from Brexit as key problems. To see what the Institute for Employment Studies says (rather than anyone else); and to get a copy of the report go to:


Another study that came out this month that is also worth looking at was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. In this study, conducted in Qatar, because the hospitals keep excellent electronic records, a sample was taken from 5,000 nurses and over 7,000 patients from seven hospitals. Most of the nurses were foreigners (largely from the Philippines). with around half the nurses holding a degree qualification. Patients admitted to any ward in the hospitals for at least one day, for any reason, were included in the study and, just so you are aware, around 200 patients died during the study period. Having analysed the data, the authors found that the more a patient was cared for by a nurse with a degree, the more likely they were to leave hospital alive. If you want to know more you can access the study at


It’s not the only recent study to show this you might also want to see:


So why am I bringing this to your attention at this time? It is not possible, due to cost and availability constraints, for every hospital to have a full complement of degree-educated nurses, so within these studies there are attempts at estimating the optimum level. It turns out that if 70% of the care a patient receives is provided by nurses with degrees then that is as good as it may get. Now take a look around our wards and our care homes? How many degree nurses can you see? Is it 70% of the workforce…? The only conclusion you can reach is that we are desperately short of nurses.

Maybe next week I’ll get back to discussing just older people’s issues but clearly a nursing shortage will greatly impact on their care.




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