Shortage of nurses threatens reform of national health service _ report (2/19/2002 9:50:00 AM)
LONDON (AP) - Britain's modernization plan for its National Health Service could come undone because of a severe shortage of nurses, their representative body said Tuesday.
The Royal College of Nursing said at least 3 billion pounds (dlrs 4.2 billion) was needed to counter an aging work force and a shrinking pool of registered nurses.
The RCN said that 24 percent of the country's registered nurses are due to retire in the next five years. One in eight nurses are under 30, compared to one in four 10 years ago, and there are as many as 20,000 nursing vacancies in England alone, the college said.
Nurses recruited from abroad made up 40 percent of new additions last year, the college said.
But the RCN warned that avenue for new blood would become increasingly more difficult as other countries like the United States became more competitive for international labor.
The nurses' body called on Treasury chief Gordon Brown to commit the 3 billion pounds in funding over five years under the Spending Review to fund Agenda for Change, the program to modernize national health service pay and career structures across Britain.
``Nurses want better career opportunities, the chance to take on new roles, support to develop their skills and a fairer pay system,'' RCN General Secretary Dr Beverly Malone said.
``We all know that nurse shortages impact on patient care. Without enough nurses, the Government's plans to modernize the NHS would be at serious risk.''
The report - Behind the Headlines - was commissioned by the Royal College of Nursing and produced by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health Care at Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh.
Copyright 2002 Associated Press.