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  • Ber Oomen

Nurse workforce planning and Bitcoins

Yesterday there was once again an evening online meeting with nurses, and, once again there were alarming messages of ongoing staff reductions with nurses leaving their hospital occupations.


"Nurses are not gold or diamonds, but they are undoubtedly the lithium in the batteries upon which the healthcare system depends.”


It seems we still have plenty of ideas on how to upgrade the work for health professionals and increase these often unrealistic expectations, but the question remains: “Is the bitter truth of the matter really reaching the people responsible for implementing the correct type of change which we need? With “low batteries or no batteries” it is simply not possible to make the current healthcare system work as it should. And let us not forget, nurses are brothers, sisters, young parents, fathers, mothers, even grandfathers and grandmothers. Let us not forget that they are humans.


When it comes to health workers, we need to stop thinking in abstract terms, such as in Bitcoins. One cannot fantasise that there are nurses doing the job for the system developed, when, in reality, they are not there.


We also need to stop complaining about a nurse shortage when, in fact, there is none! It is useless to address a 50.000 or a 100.000 nurse shortfall when there is no way to close this gap. It requires a very different approach. What is useful to address, is the  lack of recognition in the current situation, realistic thinking and a sound human resource policy. When we only talk about nurses in terms of quantity and forget the quality, we are creating a serious problem which has now, inadvertently, led us into a ‘culture problem’ in which we should not have landed at this late stage. We need to stop thinking in terms of a nurse shortage, and, instead, focus on the current situation as our “point zero”, and then assume any extra inflow of nurses as a bonus, whilst constantly being aware that this alone will not guarantee success. This was reported in the news today: “There is a new influx of new nurses, but this does not counterbalance the outflow.” The problem is extremely serious and alarming and, all over Europe, no nations and hospitals are excluded.

This is a quote from one of the nurses during our discussions:

“I left my hospital and no one seemed to notice, because, when I was there, no one noticed me, despite my academic level and decades of experience. I will remain in the nursing profession, but on more realistic terms. I have not yet decided upon where.” 


One of the most blatantly glaring surprises, is that, despite so much applause given just a year ago, this admiration does not echo at the levels where the current alarming figures (of nurses leaving their jobs) should be noticed, and not only quantitatively. 


Despite this, there is also good news. There are still many nurses motivatedly working and investing in their career, and it's an absolute necessity to assure that they are supported by every means possible, starting with the recognition of these nurses’ specialisations and their achievements. We need all hands on deck to make sure that every nurse finds a good career path to excel in their chosen speciality. Provide them with time, facilitate their education, treat them well and do what is necessary to be proud of them. In the end, all this will bounce back with good quality patient care and sustainable teams.


Ber Oomen 

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