Tag Archives: quit

My wife was destroyed by her job as an A&E nurse so I convinced her to quit

Working as a paediatric nurse in accident and emergency was my wife’s dream job. A week after she qualified, she was offered a position in one of the largest emergency departments in the country. I’d never seen her so happy; I’d never seen anyone that excited about work. And I never thought I’d be the one to make her give it all up.

I drove my wife to the hospital to collect her first uniform. I’ll never forget how proudly she ironed it when she got home. We visited her parents a week later and her grandfather gave her a fob watch and made her pose for a photo in her uniform. Her mother told us that for his remaining years he would proudly point to it whenever he had guests and say: “That’s my granddaughter, the nurse.”

My wife loved her job. Every time she got in the car after a shift she would tell me about her day. She told me whenever she did anything new, like applying her first bandage, giving her first injection or treating a child with a head injury. We were in town once and a woman came up to us and hugged her in the street. Apparently her daughter, whom my wife had treated, was always talking about her and now wanted to be a nurse. I was dumbfounded and a little jealous.

My wife’s first real test came a few months in. There had been a road traffic collision involving a child. It had been touch and go but they saved the child’s life. She cried as she told me and then sat in silence. I couldn’t imagine working under that much pressure. I smiled at her through my own tears and told her that someone’s child was alive today because of her and that she was a superhero.

Not all children were that lucky and I soon realised it was my job to provide emotional support after a difficult shift. Whenever children died she had to take their bodies to the morgue and try to console their inconsolable parents. That she could keep her head when all around her were losing theirs and not cry until she saw me gave me immense respect for her.

But six years later I sat her down with a cup of tea and told her I couldn’t stand it any more: she had to quit her job. She looked me straight in the eye and burst into tears.

I knew her department would suffer if she left, but for the past few years I had watched the physical and emotional pressures of the job destroy her. The passionate young nurse had been replaced with an exhausted, anxious woman I no longer recognised.

Being screamed at by a long line of patients during her 13-hour shift was the norm. Her stories now involved being spat at or having furniture thrown at her. I got angry. I questioned whether she was letting people walk all over her and our conversations became more heated. We were regularly arguing about her job and it was affecting our relationship. Meanwhile, more staff were calling in sick with stress and many of her friends were leaving and being replaced with newly qualified nurses.

One day, after seeing another negative story about NHS waiting times in the media, she told me something that broke my heart. She no longer told anyone she worked in A&E because she was worried about what they might say. What had that place done to my wife? The young woman who once proudly ironed her uniform was now scared to tell people what she did for a living.

I convinced her to quit because her sense of duty to the NHS, her patients and her colleagues wouldn’t allow her to do it. It was selfish of me but I couldn’t watch her destroy herself for other people, especially when those people were becoming hostile and ungrateful. She knew I was right and I wore her down. So she left, and one of the largest children’s emergency departments in the country lost another experienced, highly regarded and skilled nurse.

I read with horror recently that more than 33,000 nurses left the NHS last year. I knew that my wife was one of them and a wave of guilt rushed over me. But I could see how much happier and healthier she was and realised it was worth it and not my fault. The NHS is in crisis and something has to change. Until it does, pray you don’t have to take your child to A&E.

If you would like to contribute to our Blood, sweat and tears series about experiences in healthcare, read our guidelines and get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

My wife was destroyed by her job as an A&E nurse so I convinced her to quit

Working as a paediatric nurse in accident and emergency was my wife’s dream job. A week after she qualified, she was offered a position in one of the largest emergency departments in the country. I’d never seen her so happy; I’d never seen anyone that excited about work. And I never thought I’d be the one to make her give it all up.

I drove my wife to the hospital to collect her first uniform. I’ll never forget how proudly she ironed it when she got home. We visited her parents a week later and her grandfather gave her a fob watch and made her pose for a photo in her uniform. Her mother told us that for his remaining years he would proudly point to it whenever he had guests and say: “That’s my granddaughter, the nurse.”

My wife loved her job. Every time she got in the car after a shift she would tell me about her day. She told me whenever she did anything new, like applying her first bandage, giving her first injection or treating a child with a head injury. We were in town once and a woman came up to us and hugged her in the street. Apparently her daughter, whom my wife had treated, was always talking about her and now wanted to be a nurse. I was dumbfounded and a little jealous.

My wife’s first real test came a few months in. There had been a road traffic collision involving a child. It had been touch and go but they saved the child’s life. She cried as she told me and then sat in silence. I couldn’t imagine working under that much pressure. I smiled at her through my own tears and told her that someone’s child was alive today because of her and that she was a superhero.

Not all children were that lucky and I soon realised it was my job to provide emotional support after a difficult shift. Whenever children died she had to take their bodies to the morgue and try to console their inconsolable parents. That she could keep her head when all around her were losing theirs and not cry until she saw me gave me immense respect for her.

But six years later I sat her down with a cup of tea and told her I couldn’t stand it any more: she had to quit her job. She looked me straight in the eye and burst into tears.

I knew her department would suffer if she left, but for the past few years I had watched the physical and emotional pressures of the job destroy her. The passionate young nurse had been replaced with an exhausted, anxious woman I no longer recognised.

Being screamed at by a long line of patients during her 13-hour shift was the norm. Her stories now involved being spat at or having furniture thrown at her. I got angry. I questioned whether she was letting people walk all over her and our conversations became more heated. We were regularly arguing about her job and it was affecting our relationship. Meanwhile, more staff were calling in sick with stress and many of her friends were leaving and being replaced with newly qualified nurses.

One day, after seeing another negative story about NHS waiting times in the media, she told me something that broke my heart. She no longer told anyone she worked in A&E because she was worried about what they might say. What had that place done to my wife? The young woman who once proudly ironed her uniform was now scared to tell people what she did for a living.

I convinced her to quit because her sense of duty to the NHS, her patients and her colleagues wouldn’t allow her to do it. It was selfish of me but I couldn’t watch her destroy herself for other people, especially when those people were becoming hostile and ungrateful. She knew I was right and I wore her down. So she left, and one of the largest children’s emergency departments in the country lost another experienced, highly regarded and skilled nurse.

I read with horror recently that more than 33,000 nurses left the NHS last year. I knew that my wife was one of them and a wave of guilt rushed over me. But I could see how much happier and healthier she was and realised it was worth it and not my fault. The NHS is in crisis and something has to change. Until it does, pray you don’t have to take your child to A&E.

If you would like to contribute to our Blood, sweat and tears series about experiences in healthcare, read our guidelines and get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

My wife was destroyed by her job as an A&E nurse so I convinced her to quit

Working as a paediatric nurse in accident and emergency was my wife’s dream job. A week after she qualified, she was offered a position in one of the largest emergency departments in the country. I’d never seen her so happy; I’d never seen anyone that excited about work. And I never thought I’d be the one to make her give it all up.

I drove my wife to the hospital to collect her first uniform. I’ll never forget how proudly she ironed it when she got home. We visited her parents a week later and her grandfather gave her a fob watch and made her pose for a photo in her uniform. Her mother told us that for his remaining years he would proudly point to it whenever he had guests and say: “That’s my granddaughter, the nurse.”

My wife loved her job. Every time she got in the car after a shift she would tell me about her day. She told me whenever she did anything new, like applying her first bandage, giving her first injection or treating a child with a head injury. We were in town once and a woman came up to us and hugged her in the street. Apparently her daughter, whom my wife had treated, was always talking about her and now wanted to be a nurse. I was dumbfounded and a little jealous.

My wife’s first real test came a few months in. There had been a road traffic collision involving a child. It had been touch and go but they saved the child’s life. She cried as she told me and then sat in silence. I couldn’t imagine working under that much pressure. I smiled at her through my own tears and told her that someone’s child was alive today because of her and that she was a superhero.

Not all children were that lucky and I soon realised it was my job to provide emotional support after a difficult shift. Whenever children died she had to take their bodies to the morgue and try to console their inconsolable parents. That she could keep her head when all around her were losing theirs and not cry until she saw me gave me immense respect for her.

But six years later I sat her down with a cup of tea and told her I couldn’t stand it any more: she had to quit her job. She looked me straight in the eye and burst into tears.

I knew her department would suffer if she left, but for the past few years I had watched the physical and emotional pressures of the job destroy her. The passionate young nurse had been replaced with an exhausted, anxious woman I no longer recognised.

Being screamed at by a long line of patients during her 13-hour shift was the norm. Her stories now involved being spat at or having furniture thrown at her. I got angry. I questioned whether she was letting people walk all over her and our conversations became more heated. We were regularly arguing about her job and it was affecting our relationship. Meanwhile, more staff were calling in sick with stress and many of her friends were leaving and being replaced with newly qualified nurses.

One day, after seeing another negative story about NHS waiting times in the media, she told me something that broke my heart. She no longer told anyone she worked in A&E because she was worried about what they might say. What had that place done to my wife? The young woman who once proudly ironed her uniform was now scared to tell people what she did for a living.

I convinced her to quit because her sense of duty to the NHS, her patients and her colleagues wouldn’t allow her to do it. It was selfish of me but I couldn’t watch her destroy herself for other people, especially when those people were becoming hostile and ungrateful. She knew I was right and I wore her down. So she left, and one of the largest children’s emergency departments in the country lost another experienced, highly regarded and skilled nurse.

I read with horror recently that more than 33,000 nurses left the NHS last year. I knew that my wife was one of them and a wave of guilt rushed over me. But I could see how much happier and healthier she was and realised it was worth it and not my fault. The NHS is in crisis and something has to change. Until it does, pray you don’t have to take your child to A&E.

If you would like to contribute to our Blood, sweat and tears series about experiences in healthcare, read our guidelines and get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

My wife was destroyed by her job as an A&E nurse so I convinced her to quit

Working as a paediatric nurse in accident and emergency was my wife’s dream job. A week after she qualified, she was offered a position in one of the largest emergency departments in the country. I’d never seen her so happy; I’d never seen anyone that excited about work. And I never thought I’d be the one to make her give it all up.

I drove my wife to the hospital to collect her first uniform. I’ll never forget how proudly she ironed it when she got home. We visited her parents a week later and her grandfather gave her a fob watch and made her pose for a photo in her uniform. Her mother told us that for his remaining years he would proudly point to it whenever he had guests and say: “That’s my granddaughter, the nurse.”

My wife loved her job. Every time she got in the car after a shift she would tell me about her day. She told me whenever she did anything new, like applying her first bandage, giving her first injection or treating a child with a head injury. We were in town once and a woman came up to us and hugged her in the street. Apparently her daughter, whom my wife had treated, was always talking about her and now wanted to be a nurse. I was dumbfounded and a little jealous.

My wife’s first real test came a few months in. There had been a road traffic collision involving a child. It had been touch and go but they saved the child’s life. She cried as she told me and then sat in silence. I couldn’t imagine working under that much pressure. I smiled at her through my own tears and told her that someone’s child was alive today because of her and that she was a superhero.

Not all children were that lucky and I soon realised it was my job to provide emotional support after a difficult shift. Whenever children died she had to take their bodies to the morgue and try to console their inconsolable parents. That she could keep her head when all around her were losing theirs and not cry until she saw me gave me immense respect for her.

But six years later I sat her down with a cup of tea and told her I couldn’t stand it any more: she had to quit her job. She looked me straight in the eye and burst into tears.

I knew her department would suffer if she left, but for the past few years I had watched the physical and emotional pressures of the job destroy her. The passionate young nurse had been replaced with an exhausted, anxious woman I no longer recognised.

Being screamed at by a long line of patients during her 13-hour shift was the norm. Her stories now involved being spat at or having furniture thrown at her. I got angry. I questioned whether she was letting people walk all over her and our conversations became more heated. We were regularly arguing about her job and it was affecting our relationship. Meanwhile, more staff were calling in sick with stress and many of her friends were leaving and being replaced with newly qualified nurses.

One day, after seeing another negative story about NHS waiting times in the media, she told me something that broke my heart. She no longer told anyone she worked in A&E because she was worried about what they might say. What had that place done to my wife? The young woman who once proudly ironed her uniform was now scared to tell people what she did for a living.

I convinced her to quit because her sense of duty to the NHS, her patients and her colleagues wouldn’t allow her to do it. It was selfish of me but I couldn’t watch her destroy herself for other people, especially when those people were becoming hostile and ungrateful. She knew I was right and I wore her down. So she left, and one of the largest children’s emergency departments in the country lost another experienced, highly regarded and skilled nurse.

I read with horror recently that more than 33,000 nurses left the NHS last year. I knew that my wife was one of them and a wave of guilt rushed over me. But I could see how much happier and healthier she was and realised it was worth it and not my fault. The NHS is in crisis and something has to change. Until it does, pray you don’t have to take your child to A&E.

If you would like to contribute to our Blood, sweat and tears series about experiences in healthcare, read our guidelines and get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

My wife was destroyed by her job as an A&E nurse so I convinced her to quit

Working as a paediatric nurse in accident and emergency was my wife’s dream job. A week after she qualified, she was offered a position in one of the largest emergency departments in the country. I’d never seen her so happy; I’d never seen anyone that excited about work. And I never thought I’d be the one to make her give it all up.

I drove my wife to the hospital to collect her first uniform. I’ll never forget how proudly she ironed it when she got home. We visited her parents a week later and her grandfather gave her a fob watch and made her pose for a photo in her uniform. Her mother told us that for his remaining years he would proudly point to it whenever he had guests and say: “That’s my granddaughter, the nurse.”

My wife loved her job. Every time she got in the car after a shift she would tell me about her day. She told me whenever she did anything new, like applying her first bandage, giving her first injection or treating a child with a head injury. We were in town once and a woman came up to us and hugged her in the street. Apparently her daughter, whom my wife had treated, was always talking about her and now wanted to be a nurse. I was dumbfounded and a little jealous.

My wife’s first real test came a few months in. There had been a road traffic collision involving a child. It had been touch and go but they saved the child’s life. She cried as she told me and then sat in silence. I couldn’t imagine working under that much pressure. I smiled at her through my own tears and told her that someone’s child was alive today because of her and that she was a superhero.

Not all children were that lucky and I soon realised it was my job to provide emotional support after a difficult shift. Whenever children died she had to take their bodies to the morgue and try to console their inconsolable parents. That she could keep her head when all around her were losing theirs and not cry until she saw me gave me immense respect for her.

But six years later I sat her down with a cup of tea and told her I couldn’t stand it any more: she had to quit her job. She looked me straight in the eye and burst into tears.

I knew her department would suffer if she left, but for the past few years I had watched the physical and emotional pressures of the job destroy her. The passionate young nurse had been replaced with an exhausted, anxious woman I no longer recognised.

Being screamed at by a long line of patients during her 13-hour shift was the norm. Her stories now involved being spat at or having furniture thrown at her. I got angry. I questioned whether she was letting people walk all over her and our conversations became more heated. We were regularly arguing about her job and it was affecting our relationship. Meanwhile, more staff were calling in sick with stress and many of her friends were leaving and being replaced with newly qualified nurses.

One day, after seeing another negative story about NHS waiting times in the media, she told me something that broke my heart. She no longer told anyone she worked in A&E because she was worried about what they might say. What had that place done to my wife? The young woman who once proudly ironed her uniform was now scared to tell people what she did for a living.

I convinced her to quit because her sense of duty to the NHS, her patients and her colleagues wouldn’t allow her to do it. It was selfish of me but I couldn’t watch her destroy herself for other people, especially when those people were becoming hostile and ungrateful. She knew I was right and I wore her down. So she left, and one of the largest children’s emergency departments in the country lost another experienced, highly regarded and skilled nurse.

I read with horror recently that more than 33,000 nurses left the NHS last year. I knew that my wife was one of them and a wave of guilt rushed over me. But I could see how much happier and healthier she was and realised it was worth it and not my fault. The NHS is in crisis and something has to change. Until it does, pray you don’t have to take your child to A&E.

If you would like to contribute to our Blood, sweat and tears series about experiences in healthcare, read our guidelines and get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

‘Haemorrhaging nurses’: one in 10 quit NHS England each year

Data showing 33,000 nurses left in 2016-17 triggers warning of ‘dangerous and downward spiral’

Two NHS nurses


More nurses have left the NHS in England in the past three years than have joined. Photograph: Medic Image/Getty Images/Universal Images Group

One in 10 nurses are leaving the NHS in England each year, according to official figures, raising fresh concerns about staffing shortages in hospitals.

Data published by NHS Digital on Wednesday shows that just under 33,500 nurses left the service in 2016-17 – 3,000 more than joined and 20% higher than the number who quit in 2012-13.

The worrying figures come amid an ongoing winter crisis fuelled by rising demand, coupled with staff and bed shortages.

The data shows more nurses have left the NHS in England than have joined for the past three years, with the deficit highest last year. In each of those three years, the number quitting has been 10% of the total.

Q&A

Why is the NHS winter crisis so bad in 2017-18?

A combination of factors are at play. Hospitals have fewer beds than last year, so they are less able to deal with the recent, ongoing surge in illness. Last week, for example, the bed occupancy rate at 17 of England’s 153 acute hospital trusts was 98% or more, with the fullest – Walsall healthcare trust – 99.9% occupied.

NHS England admits that the service “has been under sustained pressure [recently because of] high levels of respiratory illness, bed occupancy levels giving limited capacity to deal with demand surges, early indications of increasing flu prevalence and some reports suggesting a rise in the severity of illness among patients arriving at A&Es”.

Many NHS bosses and senior doctors say that the pressure the NHS is under now is the heaviest it has ever been. “We are seeing conditions that people have not experienced in their working lives,” says Dr Taj Hassan, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

The unprecedented nature of the measures that NHS bosses have told hospitals to take – including cancelling tens of thousands of operations and outpatient appointments until at least the end of January – underlines the seriousness of the situation facing NHS services, including ambulance crews and GP surgeries.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Janet Davies, head of the Royal College of Nursing, told the BBC, which initially requested the figures, that they were of great concern. “The government must lift the NHS out of this dangerous and downward spiral,” she said.

“We are haemorrhaging nurses at precisely the time when demand has never been higher. The next generation of British nurses aren’t coming through just as the most experienced nurses are becoming demoralised and leaving.”

Although 6,976 (21%) of the nurses who left in the year to September 2017 were 55 or over (the age at which nurses can start retiring on a full pension), just over half (17,207) were under 40.

The figures suggest Brexit may be having an impact, with more nurses from the EU leaving than joining in recent years. Last year, 3,985 EU (excluding the UK) nurses left, compared with 2,791 who joined. By contrast, in the last full year before the 2016 referendum (2014-15), 2,416 nurses quit the NHS, while 5,977 joined.

Hospital bosses have called for the 62,000 EU workers in the NHS, who represent 5.6% of the total workforce, to be given reassurance about their status post-Brexit.

But it is not just EU nurses who are leaving. Davies said low pay and the pressures of the job must be addressed if retention were to be improved.

Last week, senior doctors wrote to Theresa May, the prime minister, warning that patients were dying in hospital corridors during the winter crisis because the NHS was so underfunded and short-staffed that it could not cope.

The percentage of patients being treated within four hours at hospital-based A&E units in England fell to its lowest-ever level (77.3%) last month.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said there had been a rise of 11,700 nurses on wards since May 2010, and an additional 5,000 training places would be available from this year.

‘Haemorrhaging nurses’: one in 10 quit NHS England each year

Data showing 33,000 nurses left in 2016-17 triggers warning of ‘dangerous and downward spiral’

Two NHS nurses


More nurses have left the NHS in England in the past three years than have joined. Photograph: Medic Image/Getty Images/Universal Images Group

One in 10 nurses are leaving the NHS in England each year, according to official figures, raising fresh concerns about staffing shortages in hospitals.

Data published by NHS Digital on Wednesday shows that just under 33,500 nurses left the service in 2016-17 – 3,000 more than joined and 20% higher than the number who quit in 2012-13.

The worrying figures come amid an ongoing winter crisis fuelled by rising demand, coupled with staff and bed shortages.

The data shows more nurses have left the NHS in England than have joined for the past three years, with the deficit highest last year. In each of those three years, the number quitting has been 10% of the total.

Q&A

Why is the NHS winter crisis so bad in 2017-18?

A combination of factors are at play. Hospitals have fewer beds than last year, so they are less able to deal with the recent, ongoing surge in illness. Last week, for example, the bed occupancy rate at 17 of England’s 153 acute hospital trusts was 98% or more, with the fullest – Walsall healthcare trust – 99.9% occupied.

NHS England admits that the service “has been under sustained pressure [recently because of] high levels of respiratory illness, bed occupancy levels giving limited capacity to deal with demand surges, early indications of increasing flu prevalence and some reports suggesting a rise in the severity of illness among patients arriving at A&Es”.

Many NHS bosses and senior doctors say that the pressure the NHS is under now is the heaviest it has ever been. “We are seeing conditions that people have not experienced in their working lives,” says Dr Taj Hassan, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

The unprecedented nature of the measures that NHS bosses have told hospitals to take – including cancelling tens of thousands of operations and outpatient appointments until at least the end of January – underlines the seriousness of the situation facing NHS services, including ambulance crews and GP surgeries.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Janet Davies, head of the Royal College of Nursing, told the BBC, which initially requested the figures, that they were of great concern. “The government must lift the NHS out of this dangerous and downward spiral,” she said.

“We are haemorrhaging nurses at precisely the time when demand has never been higher. The next generation of British nurses aren’t coming through just as the most experienced nurses are becoming demoralised and leaving.”

Although 6,976 (21%) of the nurses who left in the year to September 2017 were 55 or over (the age at which nurses can start retiring on a full pension), just over half (17,207) were under 40.

The figures suggest Brexit may be having an impact, with more nurses from the EU leaving than joining in recent years. Last year, 3,985 EU (excluding the UK) nurses left, compared with 2,791 who joined. By contrast, in the last full year before the 2016 referendum (2014-15), 2,416 nurses quit the NHS, while 5,977 joined.

Hospital bosses have called for the 62,000 EU workers in the NHS, who represent 5.6% of the total workforce, to be given reassurance about their status post-Brexit.

But it is not just EU nurses who are leaving. Davies said low pay and the pressures of the job must be addressed if retention were to be improved.

Last week, senior doctors wrote to Theresa May, the prime minister, warning that patients were dying in hospital corridors during the winter crisis because the NHS was so underfunded and short-staffed that it could not cope.

The percentage of patients being treated within four hours at hospital-based A&E units in England fell to its lowest-ever level (77.3%) last month.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said there had been a rise of 11,700 nurses on wards since May 2010, and an additional 5,000 training places would be available from this year.

‘Haemorrhaging nurses’: one in 10 quit NHS England each year

Data showing 33,000 nurses left in 2016-17 triggers warning of ‘dangerous and downward spiral’

Two NHS nurses


More nurses have left the NHS in England in the past three years than have joined. Photograph: Medic Image/Getty Images/Universal Images Group

One in 10 nurses are leaving the NHS in England each year, according to official figures, raising fresh concerns about staffing shortages in hospitals.

Data published by NHS Digital on Wednesday shows that just under 33,500 nurses left the service in 2016-17 – 3,000 more than joined and 20% higher than the number who quit in 2012-13.

The worrying figures come amid an ongoing winter crisis fuelled by rising demand, coupled with staff and bed shortages.

The data shows more nurses have left the NHS in England than have joined for the past three years, with the deficit highest last year. In each of those three years, the number quitting has been 10% of the total.

Q&A

Why is the NHS winter crisis so bad in 2017-18?

A combination of factors are at play. Hospitals have fewer beds than last year, so they are less able to deal with the recent, ongoing surge in illness. Last week, for example, the bed occupancy rate at 17 of England’s 153 acute hospital trusts was 98% or more, with the fullest – Walsall healthcare trust – 99.9% occupied.

NHS England admits that the service “has been under sustained pressure [recently because of] high levels of respiratory illness, bed occupancy levels giving limited capacity to deal with demand surges, early indications of increasing flu prevalence and some reports suggesting a rise in the severity of illness among patients arriving at A&Es”.

Many NHS bosses and senior doctors say that the pressure the NHS is under now is the heaviest it has ever been. “We are seeing conditions that people have not experienced in their working lives,” says Dr Taj Hassan, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

The unprecedented nature of the measures that NHS bosses have told hospitals to take – including cancelling tens of thousands of operations and outpatient appointments until at least the end of January – underlines the seriousness of the situation facing NHS services, including ambulance crews and GP surgeries.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Janet Davies, head of the Royal College of Nursing, told the BBC, which initially requested the figures, that they were of great concern. “The government must lift the NHS out of this dangerous and downward spiral,” she said.

“We are haemorrhaging nurses at precisely the time when demand has never been higher. The next generation of British nurses aren’t coming through just as the most experienced nurses are becoming demoralised and leaving.”

Although 6,976 (21%) of the nurses who left in the year to September 2017 were 55 or over (the age at which nurses can start retiring on a full pension), just over half (17,207) were under 40.

The figures suggest Brexit may be having an impact, with more nurses from the EU leaving than joining in recent years. Last year, 3,985 EU (excluding the UK) nurses left, compared with 2,791 who joined. By contrast, in the last full year before the 2016 referendum (2014-15), 2,416 nurses quit the NHS, while 5,977 joined.

Hospital bosses have called for the 62,000 EU workers in the NHS, who represent 5.6% of the total workforce, to be given reassurance about their status post-Brexit.

But it is not just EU nurses who are leaving. Davies said low pay and the pressures of the job must be addressed if retention were to be improved.

Last week, senior doctors wrote to Theresa May, the prime minister, warning that patients were dying in hospital corridors during the winter crisis because the NHS was so underfunded and short-staffed that it could not cope.

The percentage of patients being treated within four hours at hospital-based A&E units in England fell to its lowest-ever level (77.3%) last month.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said there had been a rise of 11,700 nurses on wards since May 2010, and an additional 5,000 training places would be available from this year.

‘Haemorrhaging nurses’: one in 10 quit NHS England each year

Data showing 33,000 nurses left in 2016-17 triggers warning of ‘dangerous and downward spiral’

Two NHS nurses


More nurses have left the NHS in England in the past three years than have joined. Photograph: Medic Image/Getty Images/Universal Images Group

One in 10 nurses are leaving the NHS in England each year, according to official figures, raising fresh concerns about staffing shortages in hospitals.

Data published by NHS Digital on Wednesday shows that just under 33,500 nurses left the service in 2016-17 – 3,000 more than joined and 20% higher than the number who quit in 2012-13.

The worrying figures come amid an ongoing winter crisis fuelled by rising demand, coupled with staff and bed shortages.

The data shows more nurses have left the NHS in England than have joined for the past three years, with the deficit highest last year. In each of those three years, the number quitting has been 10% of the total.

Q&A

Why is the NHS winter crisis so bad in 2017-18?

A combination of factors are at play. Hospitals have fewer beds than last year, so they are less able to deal with the recent, ongoing surge in illness. Last week, for example, the bed occupancy rate at 17 of England’s 153 acute hospital trusts was 98% or more, with the fullest – Walsall healthcare trust – 99.9% occupied.

NHS England admits that the service “has been under sustained pressure [recently because of] high levels of respiratory illness, bed occupancy levels giving limited capacity to deal with demand surges, early indications of increasing flu prevalence and some reports suggesting a rise in the severity of illness among patients arriving at A&Es”.

Many NHS bosses and senior doctors say that the pressure the NHS is under now is the heaviest it has ever been. “We are seeing conditions that people have not experienced in their working lives,” says Dr Taj Hassan, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

The unprecedented nature of the measures that NHS bosses have told hospitals to take – including cancelling tens of thousands of operations and outpatient appointments until at least the end of January – underlines the seriousness of the situation facing NHS services, including ambulance crews and GP surgeries.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Janet Davies, head of the Royal College of Nursing, told the BBC, which initially requested the figures, that they were of great concern. “The government must lift the NHS out of this dangerous and downward spiral,” she said.

“We are haemorrhaging nurses at precisely the time when demand has never been higher. The next generation of British nurses aren’t coming through just as the most experienced nurses are becoming demoralised and leaving.”

Although 6,976 (21%) of the nurses who left in the year to September 2017 were 55 or over (the age at which nurses can start retiring on a full pension), just over half (17,207) were under 40.

The figures suggest Brexit may be having an impact, with more nurses from the EU leaving than joining in recent years. Last year, 3,985 EU (excluding the UK) nurses left, compared with 2,791 who joined. By contrast, in the last full year before the 2016 referendum (2014-15), 2,416 nurses quit the NHS, while 5,977 joined.

Hospital bosses have called for the 62,000 EU workers in the NHS, who represent 5.6% of the total workforce, to be given reassurance about their status post-Brexit.

But it is not just EU nurses who are leaving. Davies said low pay and the pressures of the job must be addressed if retention were to be improved.

Last week, senior doctors wrote to Theresa May, the prime minister, warning that patients were dying in hospital corridors during the winter crisis because the NHS was so underfunded and short-staffed that it could not cope.

The percentage of patients being treated within four hours at hospital-based A&E units in England fell to its lowest-ever level (77.3%) last month.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said there had been a rise of 11,700 nurses on wards since May 2010, and an additional 5,000 training places would be available from this year.

‘Haemorrhaging nurses’: one in 10 quit NHS England each year

Data showing 33,000 nurses left in 2016-17 triggers warning of ‘dangerous and downward spiral’

Two NHS nurses


More nurses have left the NHS in England in the past three years than have joined. Photograph: Medic Image/Getty Images/Universal Images Group

One in 10 nurses are leaving the NHS in England each year, according to official figures, raising fresh concerns about staffing shortages in hospitals.

Data published by NHS Digital on Wednesday shows that just under 33,500 nurses left the service in 2016-17 – 3,000 more than joined and 20% higher than the number who quit in 2012-13.

The worrying figures come amid an ongoing winter crisis fuelled by rising demand, coupled with staff and bed shortages.

The data shows more nurses have left the NHS in England than have joined for the past three years, with the deficit highest last year. In each of those three years, the number quitting has been 10% of the total.

Q&A

Why is the NHS winter crisis so bad in 2017-18?

A combination of factors are at play. Hospitals have fewer beds than last year, so they are less able to deal with the recent, ongoing surge in illness. Last week, for example, the bed occupancy rate at 17 of England’s 153 acute hospital trusts was 98% or more, with the fullest – Walsall healthcare trust – 99.9% occupied.

NHS England admits that the service “has been under sustained pressure [recently because of] high levels of respiratory illness, bed occupancy levels giving limited capacity to deal with demand surges, early indications of increasing flu prevalence and some reports suggesting a rise in the severity of illness among patients arriving at A&Es”.

Many NHS bosses and senior doctors say that the pressure the NHS is under now is the heaviest it has ever been. “We are seeing conditions that people have not experienced in their working lives,” says Dr Taj Hassan, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

The unprecedented nature of the measures that NHS bosses have told hospitals to take – including cancelling tens of thousands of operations and outpatient appointments until at least the end of January – underlines the seriousness of the situation facing NHS services, including ambulance crews and GP surgeries.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Janet Davies, head of the Royal College of Nursing, told the BBC, which initially requested the figures, that they were of great concern. “The government must lift the NHS out of this dangerous and downward spiral,” she said.

“We are haemorrhaging nurses at precisely the time when demand has never been higher. The next generation of British nurses aren’t coming through just as the most experienced nurses are becoming demoralised and leaving.”

Although 6,976 (21%) of the nurses who left in the year to September 2017 were 55 or over (the age at which nurses can start retiring on a full pension), just over half (17,207) were under 40.

The figures suggest Brexit may be having an impact, with more nurses from the EU leaving than joining in recent years. Last year, 3,985 EU (excluding the UK) nurses left, compared with 2,791 who joined. By contrast, in the last full year before the 2016 referendum (2014-15), 2,416 nurses quit the NHS, while 5,977 joined.

Hospital bosses have called for the 62,000 EU workers in the NHS, who represent 5.6% of the total workforce, to be given reassurance about their status post-Brexit.

But it is not just EU nurses who are leaving. Davies said low pay and the pressures of the job must be addressed if retention were to be improved.

Last week, senior doctors wrote to Theresa May, the prime minister, warning that patients were dying in hospital corridors during the winter crisis because the NHS was so underfunded and short-staffed that it could not cope.

The percentage of patients being treated within four hours at hospital-based A&E units in England fell to its lowest-ever level (77.3%) last month.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said there had been a rise of 11,700 nurses on wards since May 2010, and an additional 5,000 training places would be available from this year.