Analysis of global nursing workforce crisis and challenges in the report by CGFNS and ICN.

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International Centre on Nurse Migration (ICNM) published this report titled ‘Sustain and Retain in 2022 and Beyond (The Global Nursing Workforce and The COVID-19 Pandemic). ICNM is a joint organization of CGFNS and ICN.

Report highlight that nurses are the most critical care providers in hospitals, yet they are often given too many patients to handle. The lack of adequate staffing leads to high rates of burnout and turnover, which is detrimental for both patients and nurses alike.

Below are the action for countries to sustain and retain nurses;

  • The commitment should include a plan for continuous application of staffing methods, necessary resource allocation, and health system good governance that will support safe staffing levels. 
  • Should be provided with full vaccinations to protect themselves and others from diseases that can be spread through casual contact. 
  • Nurse workforce impact assessments, conducted regularly in order to generate evidence and develop a better understanding of pandemic impact on individual nurses and the overall nursing workforce; 

The report found that the nursing workforce crisis is not only affecting patients but also nurses themselves. Nurses are overworked and underpaid which has led to high turnover rates. This has created a vicious cycle because there are not enough nurses to replace those who quit or retire.

Dr Franklin A. Shaffer, President and Chief Executive Officer at CGFNS said “We can anticipate that there will be a migration tsunami as more than ever before, countries around the world turn to the international nursing supply to meet their workforce needs. The pre-existing unequal distribution of nurses around the world will be exacerbated by large-scale international recruitment to high-income countries as they look for a ‘quick fix’ solution to solving their nursing shortages, which will only widen inequalities in access to healthcare globally.”

The report include survey findings from different countries that can be accessed here

Howard Catton, CEO of ICN said, “We can no longer afford to undervalue and underfund the nursing profession, not only for the sake of the health of nurses, but for the protection and sustainability of our entire global health system. Let’s be clear: we are not talking about stop-gap solutions, getting through the current pandemic, or even preparing for the next. We are talking about being able to address all the healthcare needs that have built up and been delayed since the onset of the pandemic. If we do not address all these present and urgent needs in a sustainable way over the next decade, the WHO’s ambition of Universal Health Coverage will be thwarted.”

Nursing shortage before pandemic was estimated to 5.9 million but post pandemic this is estimated to 7 million-11 million with different criteria.

James Buchan, Professor at University of Technology Sydney, said: “COVID-19 has had a terrible impact on the nursing workforce in terms of the personal effect it has had on individual nurses, and the problems it has exposed within many healthcare systems. Pre-existing shortages exacerbated the impact of the pandemic and burned-out nurses are leaving because they cannot carry on any longer. Governments have not reacted effectively to the growing worldwide shortage of nurses, and now they must respond to the pandemic, which is an alarming game-changer that requires immediate action.”

Complete report can be accessed here

Pamela Cipriano, ICN President, said: “Nurses have been on the front lines of the pandemic for two years now. The influence they have had on the survival and health of the people they serve has been enormous. Despite enduring heavy emotional and physical burdens of providing care for their patients and communities, they have shown great resilience. But resiliency has its limits. Without nurses, it is clear our health systems would collapse. All of the evidence in this report shows that it is vital to act on a new ten-year plan that guarantees investments to stabilize and build the nursing workforce. Delivering on commitments to support nurses with safe work environments, staffing levels and workloads, involvement in decision-making, mental health services and equitable compensation will catalyse interest and growth to build the profession. Nurses deserve to be recognised and rewarded for their immeasurable contributions to the health of people everywhere.”

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