Letter: Cure for the NHS

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Sir: The crisis in nursing is in related to retention, not recruitment. As young people embark on nursing education they become disillusioned by what they experience in the wards.

Working conditions for most nurses are deplorable. Frequent spells of night duty and missed meal breaks leave the individual exhausted and debilitated. Too many doctors are autocratic. High sickness levels along with inevitably high maternity leave frequently creates understaffing. Often the low staffing creates potential dangers for patients and spiralling decline in morale. Low pay adds insult to injury. Staff nurses in charge of wards earn as little as pounds 16,000 per year.

The drive to train more nurses without addressing these problems merely pours people "into the trenches" and leads to lower morale because the clinical staff cannot cope with ever increasing numbers of students. The solution is a root-and-branch reform of the social conditions of nursing, greatly enhanced pay and sound education.

YVONNE FULTON

Farley, Wiltshire

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