Introduction Health systems around the world report a global shortage of nurses.
In the United Kingdom 55% of registered nurses are not practicing in the NHS.
How many nurses delivering complex care to children with life-limiting conditions are employed in voluntary organisations?
Is this number enough to provide safe, sustainable care whenever and wherever they need it, now and into the future?
Aims To explore this we gathered direct feedback from voluntary children’s hospice and palliative care organisations.
Methods We carried out data collection via online survey for an agreed date and in-depth analysis.
Results Two thirds of the children’s hospice and community services completed the survey allowing us to extrapolate and predict there are over 1500 nurses employed in the sector.
The average vacancy rate we found was 10% which reflects the national rate for NHS Services across the country.
Over 60% of vacancies came under the definition of ‘hard to fill’ (post vacant for over three months).
Almost half of services had to reduce the service offered to families due to vacancies; reducing the short break offered or reducing the out of hours part of the service.
Conclusion Despite the vacancy rate in the sector matching the NHS, the responses suggest differences in terms and conditions compared to NHS which may be a barrier to attracting and retaining nurses in children’s hospice organisations. Responses also suggested a barrier when attracting nurses to a sector sometimes perceived as ‘sad’.
We asked sector leaders to relate these findings to the global picture and suggest local solutions to recruitment practice.
The survey highlighted the urgent need to increase the profile of working in this sector, ensure roles are made attractive to prospective nurses and find creative solutions to skill mix in future workforce planning.
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