The Mid Staffs scandal left the public's confidence in the NHS and its staff severely shaken. A public inquiry found the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust had fallen far short of its duty of care to hundreds of patients at Staffordshire Hospital, citing their "appalling and unnecessary suffering". The report highlighted failures at almost every level of the hospital's management - and experts pointed to its wider impact including a detrimental effect on the numbers of people taking jobs in nursing.
A need for UK nurses
The scandal affected not only the public image of the NHS but that of its nurses. To repair the damage caused, healthcare trusts across the UK are attempting to bolster their ranks of nursing staff with professional, well-trained personnel who can cope with the unique pressures and challenges of their role.
The consequences of the Mid Staffs scandal come at a time when the need to get trained nurses onto Britain's wards is growing in urgency. In 2013, many observers warned of an impending crisis: a November report by the Royal College of Nursing revealed 20,000 unfilled nursing posts in England, and around one fifth of trusts recruiting nurses from abroad in order to meet the shortfall.
Healthcare trusts are determined to learn the lessons of Mid Staffs, focusing on overhauling the levels of training, communication and accountability nursing staff receive. Jobs in nursing are demanding and challenging - but can also be incredibly rewarding if the right personnel are found for the right roles.
Choosing to become a nurse
Prospective nurses can look forward to an exciting and varied career, with huge potential for career advancement working in hospitals, clinics, residential homes, or travelling out into the community, to provide in-home care for vulnerable patients.
Given the intense focus on the professionalism and training of nursing staff, regulations for applications to nursing roles are strictly controlled. Prospective nurses now require a mandatory level of training and qualification, including a university level degree in nursing. Successful completion of nursing degrees allows nurses to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council - and start applying for jobs.
Nursing degrees normally last three years and are taken in one of the four branches of nursing: adult nursing, mental health, learning disability and children's nursing. Some universities offer four year courses, which cover dual-branches of the profession.
Emphasis in any degree programme is placed on teaching students about the safe and effective delivery of nursing care. Courses comprise 50% theory and 50% practical elements, with students splitting time between the classroom and training placements. The need to instil in nurses the professional values of their job is paramount - but students also receive crucial training in communication and interpersonal skills, decision making, leadership, management and team-work.
Qualified and registered nurses are in high demand - and vacancies can be found all over the country, in a wide variety of roles and environments. Applicants to nursing positions can increase their chances of finding a position, by seeking work experience at local hospitals and clinics.
Restoring the faith
It is vital that the UK's healthcare trusts find nurses who can represent and promote the hard-earned reputation of their profession. Nurses form the backbone of the NHS, and are often the first point of contact for millions of patients - in addition performing an on-going role in their treatment. Restoring the public's faith in Britain's healthcare system is a crucial task - one which a new generation of nurses must be ready to take on.
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