YOUR readers will be aware of the well-documented pressures currently being experienced in health services both locally and nationally.

Our members are aiming, as always, to provide the highest standards of safe and effective care at a time of high demand and staffing shortages.

It would be easy to blame the current staffing pressures on the Covid-19 pandemic – a combination of more patients needing Covid treatment and rising staff sickness levels due to illness and isolation.

This is certainly where the government would like to pin the blame.

The reality is the current problems have been a long time in the making.

Factors such as a loss of nurses from EU countries, changes to nursing student finance in 2016, failure to award staff a fair pay rise and continued lack of a coherent workforce plan that addresses how to retain experienced nurses as well as recruit new ones have all contributed to the extraordinary circumstances our members are now working under.

While we hope the pressures piled on by Covid-19 will soon start to subside again, the underlying workforce shortages, declining morale and unsustainable pressures will remain.

In fact, they are driving nursing staff to seriously consider leaving the job they love.

Please contact your MP and support us as we continue to promote the importance of safe staffing across the whole health and care system.

Carmel O’Boyle, Regional board chair, RCN North West