1. Parrish, Colin

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In July the English Depart-ment of Health announced that nursing and midwifery were no longer considered "shortage professions."


Facilities must advertise general nursing positions within the United Kingdom (UK), and only if they're unable to fill them with UK- or European Union-trained nurses, can they go outside. Exceptions will be made for "specialist" and senior positions. The decision comes at a time when four out of five graduates from English nursing schools are expected to be unemployed after graduation this summer.


England's National Health Service (NHS) is currently experiencing a funding crisis that is having far-reaching effects on nursing. NHS organizations, which have in the past been allowed to carry over large financial deficits, are being forced to break even by the end of April 2007. As a result, up to 20,000 NHS staff, about a third of whom are nurses, may lose their jobs.


Strategic health authorities, the government organizations that oversee health planning and education, have reduced nurse-training positions by 10%.


Nurses' unions and the universities have accused the government of being short-sighted. They say the demographics of the aging nursing workforce in the UK reveal a looming shortage that will only be made worse if the UK does not train its own nurses in large numbers.


Professor Dame Jill Macleod Clark, who is chairwoman of the Council of Deans and Heads of UK University Faculties for Nursing and Health Professionals told a House of Commons committee that the current situation was "very dangerous [because] we know we will need more nurses in the future, not fewer."


The Royal College of Nursing has called on the government to establish a nationwide workforce-planning strategy.


Colin Parrish