The uncertainty created by Brexit means that the reliance in recent years on recruitment from the EU is no longer available to shore up the numbers. Our NHS staff cannot keep giving more at the same time that we are giving them less, the Government needs to reinstate bursaries and end pay restraint - we cannot afford not to.
Since the Government announced the withdrawal of student funding for would-be nurses last year, we are already hearing of a 20% drop in applications for graduate nursing courses. And the 1% pay cap on salaries is not helping to encourage people into nursing and is making existing nurses reconsider whether they can even afford to continue. If the NHS wants to achieve a clean bill of health, we need to ensure there is adequate staffing, funding, resource and education. The health of the nation is at stake.
I haven't blogged for a while. The reason will shock our esteemed Prime Minister. It's because I've been a bit busy - see Mrs May, I'm a GP. So waking up on Saturday to hear your briefing to the press suggesting that I am to blame for the current crisis in the NHS, and that you will 'order' me and all my colleagues to be open 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm, made me pick up my laptop.
Once the production team started to research the series what they found was things we'd never seen before - the extent of cancelled ops, the failing targets, outsourcing of some procedures and 'health tourism'. But they also found extraordinary resilience, remarkably understanding patients and an ability to perform some of the best care and surgery in the world.
Public health nursing has its origins in the mid 1800's when the inequalities of the 19th century, and the ruinous health outcomes of the poorest in society, became increasingly apparent. Following the Boer War, in which the Government struggled to find enough young people who were fit enough to recruit as soldiers, infant welfare in particular fast became a priority.
When the practical and economic feasibility of a routine 7-day NHS has been roundly debunked by senior doctors, service providers and analyists, it is only natural to ask how this is going to happen. Maybe, we ought to be thinking a little more naturally ourselves, and prepare for our complementary secretary of state for health to give us a very complementary 7-day routine NHS.
We often hear that some nurses are short of compassion, but for the overwhelming majority of the profession, this is simply not true and there is certainly no evidence that shows that this is the problem underlying current concerns about quality. We do however have ample evidence that they are often short of time, compromising their ability both to show that compassion and to maintain safety. Safe staffing is not an optional extra.
After feeling like an outsider in society, doing this sort of thing is a way of being part of the community and starting to follow a normal way of life. I'd tell anyone to do it, and use it as a positive way to develop themselves whilst supporting a great cause. That's the reason behind it all at the end of the day, and the sense of achievement is second to none.
It boils down to the fact that doctors and nurses do are the point of the NHS. Everything else is just a structure to allow them to do it in the most efficient way. And two of the things that makes it efficient is making it free at point of service, and making the people at the point of service happy, awake, and willing to make the necessary sacrifices their job requires.
Mr Cameron and Mr Hunt - maybe it's time you took responsibility for this horrific mess. Turn to the NHS staff. Turn to the patients and relatives. Apologise, say you got it wrong and let's fix the most important thing this country has. You forget when the NHS is broken, it isn't just about headlines and careers, it's about lives. People are dying because of you. Time to stand up and face the music.