They are aware of the problem, but their solutions are not working.” A Government failure to properly heed warnings is already in the spotlight following the Grenfell Tower fire, with ministers having neglected to implement a long called-for safety review that experts say could have helped prevent the blaze that has so far claimed 79 lives.
If there is another tragedy in the NHS exacerbated by the shortage of nurses, no one will be able to say they did not see it coming.
“There had been a loud voice of nurses saying staffing levels were too low, we were talking about recruitment and low staffing and the inevitable happened.
“If it continues like this then obviously it’s impossible to provide excellent care.” She went on: “They are risking it again.
The RCN reports that there should be 340,000 nurses in the system to make sure patients are safe according to official standards, but one in nine posts – some 40,000 – are unfilled. The shortage is likely to worsen as the foreign staffing the NHS depends on has fallen off a cliff since the country’s referendum to quit the European Union.
Official figures are yet to confirm the exact number of would-be nurses starting in September, but data from UCAS points to a 23 per cent reduction on last year.
It comes after a community psychiatric nurse, Timothy Hyde, was struck off for “conducting an inappropriate relationship with a former patient”.
He had contacted the woman on Facebook two weeks after meeting her in the course of his work, but then “blocked” contact with her after they had a sexual relationship.
In new applicants above the age of 25, who bring vital life experience and more often work in the community, where ministers want more care to take place, it is a 26 per cent drop.
Ms Davies said: “My conversation with some universities show a significant drop in applications in some areas.