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NHS in ‘national emergency’ over staff shortages

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The data shows that 11.8% of nursing posts are not filled, creating a total shortage of 42,000

New figures from NHS Improvement reveal that the NHS staffing crisis is worsening, with nursing experiencing the most severe shortages.

On average, 1 in 11 posts are vacant despite efforts by ministers and NHS leaders to tackle chronic staff shortages.

‘This report paints a bleak picture of rising demand and unsustainable workforce shortages, and betrays a huge over-reliance on bank and agency staff in England. The Government must immediately investigate this sudden spike in vacancies,’ said Tom Sandford, director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The data, which analysed the April to June 2018 period, shows that 11.8% of nursing posts are not filled, creating a total shortage of 42,000 – which means that nursing vacancy rates are up 17% since the previous quarter and 9% from the same time last year.

‘Widespread and growing nursing shortages now risk becoming a national emergency and are symptomatic of a long-term failure in workforce planning, which has been exacerbated by the impact of Brexit and short-sighted immigration policies,’ said Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at The King’s Fund, a healthcare think tank.

‘The new funding settlement announced by the government is very welcome, but it is not a panacea for the pressures facing the NHS. Today’s report is a reminder that the forthcoming NHS long-term plan must focus on reform and investment in new ways of delivering services otherwise the NHS will be trapped in a perpetual winter crisis.’

The RCN says that a comprehensive workforce plan is needed to respond to the high demand of health services to ensure safe and effective patient care.

In addition to workforce data, the report also showed a total deficit of £519 million has been forecast for this year but this is lower than the deficit has been in the previous 3 years.

Overall, 9.2% of all posters were not filled across the NHS, creating a shortage of nearly 108,000 employees.

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