With cash-strapped NHS continuing its policy of short-term solutions a trade union has launched a scathing attack on the NHS when it was revealed that fewer than one in five graduating student nurses would be employed.
In the 1990s as hospitals were forced to recruit overseas to meet workforce targets because of shortage of qualified nursing staff. At that time NHS had guaranteed students a job once they qualify after three years of study.
However mounting evidence from 20 universities in England has showed that more than 80% of nursing students are finishing their training without a post lined up this year.
Gail Adams, head of nursing at Unison, termed it 'immoral and unethical' to allow people to devote years to training only to face an acute employment shortage not to mention the disgraceful waste of taxpayers' money. 'It takes around Ģ50,000 to train a nurse and to see this money wasted is a disgrace.'
One university reported that only one of a class of 50 had so far been successful when normally one expected to see 90% of students get jobs. A London institution said that only a quarter of students who graduated in May were working as nurses.
Specialists such as community nurses, diagnostic radiographers, midwives and physiotherapists faced similar situations. The report concluded that news of the shortages could hit future recruitment and cause early drop-outs.
Ms Adams said: 'Student nurses are frustrated, angry and disillusioned because of the difficulties they face finding jobs as deficits bite. It is clear that the Department of Health has failed to forward plan, or we would not be in this dire situation. It is immoral and unethical to have allowed these students to devote three years of their time, energy and dedication to become nurses, only to find there is no job at the end of it. The current shortage of jobs is being fuelled by financial deficits in the NHS, and student nurses are paying the price. What kind of message does this send out to people thinking of taking up nursing in the future? There is an overall shortage of nurses across the NHS; these cut backs are a short-term, short-sighted solution.'
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Steve Webb MP criticized the government for its mismanagement of the NHS, which has caused fully qualified nurses to be put on the scrap heap.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: 'the recruitment freezes and job losses in hospitals have created a bottleneck of trainee nurses. Meanwhile, we have a shortage of nurses in the community, where the government claims more NHS services will be provided.'