This site is intended for health professionals only


NHS free care under threat, nursing shortages … and why pregnant women should avoid cash receipts



There’s much doom and gloom about the NHS this morning, with a report from health officials that free treatment ‘at the point of need’ could soon all but disappear owing to current spending cuts, and news that hospitals are having to recruit nurses from overseas because of staff shortages.

The Mirror claims a leaked document from the NHS Confederation says free care will have to go unless there is a radical boost in funding.

According to the paper, the report concludes: ‘It is very possible the current basis of the NHS free for all at the point of need will become unsustainable in the future.’

And many nationals report on the findings of a Nursing Times investigation revealing that hospital managers are trawling European recruitment fairs to plug gaps in nursing posts. The Independent says at least 40 out of 105 hospital trusts in England have actively recruited staff from abroad in the past 12 months, most from Spain and Portugal, while a further 41 trusts plan to recruit overseas in the next 12 months. 

Dr Peter Carter from the Royal College of Nursing said this ‘short-term, boom-and-bust workforce planning’ is ‘endemic in the NHS’.

He added: ‘It is frankly perplexing that on the one hand nursing posts are being cut and training places being reduced, while on the other, desperate managers are raiding overseas workforces.’

Elsewhere the Daily Telegraph says pregnant women are being warned to avoid eating canned and microwaved food, as well as drinking plastic bottles left out in the sun, after scientists said a chemical released into the food or water when it is heated up can increase the risk of miscarriage by 80%.

The chemical – bisphenol A – is found in all sorts of food packaging as well as in till receipts. Lead researcher Dr Ruth Lathi, from Stanford University in California, advised pregnant women to ‘avoid canned food, avoid cooking or heating plastic and then avoid unnecessary cash register receipts’.

The warning comes after the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advised pregnant women to ‘play it safe’ and limit exposure to chemicals in plastics until more is known about the risks of exposure, the paper says.