Thousands of trainee nurses will not get jobs this year following NHS recruitment freezes and deficits, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.
At the college’s annual conference in Bournemouth yesterday, students voted overwhelmingly to back a motion urging the government to guarantee every newly-qualified nurse one year’s employment in the NHS when they graduate.A similar scheme is run in Scotland.
Grant Ciccone from the RCN’s Association of Nursing Students, who proposed the motion, said a “very, very small percentage” of those graduating this year had jobs to go to and the problem was at its worst in recent history.
He said he had found on anecdotal evidence that half of all students qualifying between April and September had no job to go to.
Ciccone said he had to get a job stacking shelves at Tesco for the minimum wage.
Josie Irwin, head of employment relations for the RCN, said the problem had grown as NHS trusts’ deficits had grown.
“The Department of Health will say overall there isn’t a problem and people will have to get on their bikes and move to get jobs,” she warned.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “There are still jobs for newly qualified staff in many different areas of the NHS but, as a consequence of the measures to reduce vacancy rates, there is more competition now.
“We still need more newly-qualified staff to replace those who retire or take career breaks, but some graduates may not always be able to find the job they want in the location they want and may need to be more flexible.
“Strategic health authorities and trusts are working proactively to find slots for newly-trained staff within their overall workforce plan and to redeploy surplus staff.”