I AM writing a comment on your story of September 28 headed ‘Nursing shortage hits Somerset Hospitals’.

The nursing crisis has been building up. The NHS has been recruiting nurses from overseas for many years; despite this there are now 40,000 vacancies across the UK.

A recent survey showed four out of five NHS nursing directors were worried that their hospitals relied on the goodwill of staff to keep services running, and two out of three said financial pressures to maintain an adequate service were worsening.

This is indeed a crisis already.

Brexit is adding to this: many EU nationals are leaving due to government failure to guarantee the right to remain in the UK.

This, needless to say, impacts on the potential to recruit from EU countries.

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Health Education England, the organisation responsible for the training of nurses, claims its current increase in training will produce at least 25,000 extra nurses by 2020.

This is clearly insufficient to fill the current gap.

In 2016/17, 20 per cent more people left the nursing register than joined it.

The HEE is funded through the NHS and between 2014 and 2020 is subject to a 20 per cent cut in funding.

In addition, the public sector pay restraint at 1 per cent has effectively reduced nursing salaries in terms of being able to maintain living standards.

Add to this the Conservative Party intent to introduce loans in place of bursaries for nurse training.

In short, nurse recruitment is facing a ‘perfect storm’ of a decrease in disposable income due to pay restraint, difficulty in recruitment due to Brexit, the introduction of loans instead of bursaries and inadequate forward training plans and a decrease in training budgets.

It is time our local MP stood up for nurses and lobbied her colleagues Jeremy Hunt and the Chancellor to address these problems otherwise we will be met with hospital and ward closures as staffing levels decrease below what is viable.

Indeed, we are already seeing this in our local hospitals.

Creech St Michael