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New figures reveal extent of NHS staffing crisis

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Nurses and midwives had the highest number of unfilled positions

The true scale of the shortage of doctors, nurses and midwives in England has been revealed by NHS Digital’s vacancy statistics. Figures revealed that the NHS is short of 35,794 nurses and 9,982 doctors.

This staff shortage is the highest it’s been for these key health professional groups since records began in 2015.

Between October 2017 and March 2018 NHS providers aimed to recruit 69,408 employees, which is 5,281 more than the same 6-month period in 2016-2017 and a massive increase of 11,444 in 2015-2016.

Nurses and midwives had the highest number of unfilled positions than any other health profession in March 2018 – making up 40% of all vacancies.

‘It’s very worrying that the number of vacant posts for nurses and midwives has increased more than those for any other type of clinical staff, with almost 36,000 vacant posts for nurses and midwives advertised in the first three months of this year, an increase of 1,800 on the previous year,’ said Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

‘We also know that not all vacant nurse jobs are even advertised in the current climate, so these figures will be an under-estimate. They bear out what patients, their families and our own surveys repeatedly tell us – that there just aren’t enough nurses to provide safe care.’

‘But with the number of applications to nursing degree courses having dropped by almost third in the two years since the Government removed funding for nursing students, the serious risk is that we will soon see fewer nurses on wards and in the community, not more.’

According to NHS Improvement, patient safety is not at risk as 95% these vacant nursing positions are being filled by temporary workers – however, these staff are often paid more than what a regular nurse would cost.

A total of 87,478 vacancies were advertised in the NHS between January and March 2018.

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