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Report predicts shortfall of 42,000 nurses by 2020

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NHS England could lose 12% of its staff NHS England could lose 12% of its staff by 2020, according to Health Foundation predictions

NHS England could be missing 12% of its nursing workforce by 2020, according to a new report from the Health Foundation.

In short supply, a report analysing the 2016 NHS staff survey shows that almost half of all nurses are concerned that there aren’t sufficient staffing levels to allow them to do their job properly. Its statistical analysis indicated a shortfall of 42,000 nurses could hit services in England by 2020.

Leaked Department of Health figures previously forecast a 'worst case scenario' nursing shortage of 40,000 by 2026.

Read more: Shortage of up to 40,000 nurses could follow Brexit by 2026

The report also reveals that pay for NHS staff on pay bands 5 and above, which represents 625,000 people and includes all nurses, will drop by 12% between 2010/11 and 2020/21, after accounting for inflation. It warns that without a change to pay policy the situation could become even worse.

Looking at at nurse staffing levels and NHS pay policy, the Health Foundation said they found that a serious lack of coordinated workforce planning is one of the ‘Achilles heels of the NHS’. They said impact of Brexit on international recruitment is likely to make the situation worse.

Health Foundation director of research and economics Anita Charlesworth said: ‘Poor workforce planning is one of the key risks facing the NHS. We are still not training enough nurses, doing too little to stop nurses leaving, and there seems to be no plan for pay policy following almost a decade of pay restraint. On top of this, the impact of Brexit means that international recruitment – the health service’s usual get-out-of-jail-free card for staff shortages – is at risk.

Read more: 'We cannot afford to lose them': Government called to keep on EU nurses

‘Half of nurses don’t feel staffing levels are safe. The stress this places on nurses is causing many to leave the health service, making it even harder to provide safe staffing levels and driving a vicious cycle which can’t be escaped with more quick fixes or short-term solutions.’

The report also found that NHS staff will have had a pay cut since 2010/11, when taking into account inflation, and current public sector pay policy implies they will face further real-terms pay cuts in the coming years.

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