Letter: NHS on critical list

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The Independent Culture
NHS ("Hospitals warn of winter overload", 28 October) And again it's being labelled as a "bed crisis". But, of course, it's no such thing. There is absolutely no shortage in the NHS of structures with four legs and mattresses. The problem is that there are not enough nurses to staff them. This is not a bed crisis - this is a nurses crises.

Frank Dobson can talk about "new procedures" and "special arrangements" till he's blue in the face. But he's well aware that there are large numbers of unfilled vacancies for trained nurses throughout the country - so much so that teams have been sent as far afield as Finland and New Zealand to try to recruit nurses.

He knows, too, that a qualified staff nurse is paid only pounds 12,633 for all the demands and responsibility that his or her work entails. And what is the one thing that our brave leader has resolutely set his face against? It is a significant pay rise for the nursing profession.

So let us not have any hand-wringing this winter about patients on trolleys because the wards are overflowing. Many hospitals have empty wards and vacant beds just begging for patients, but no nurses to look after them.

HUGH J THOMPSON

Birmingham

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