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NHS nursing vacancies increase as strike looms

Nursing staff vacancies soared to nearly 48,000, new data reveals

New NHS data claims nursing vacancies have risen to 11.9% as of September 2022.

NHS England have published the latest vacancy statistics for the health sector which showed registered nursing staff vacancies increased to 47,496.

The BMA responded to the vacancy data saying that the government was ‘nowhere close’ to getting a grip on the NHS workforce crisis.

'When the NHS has been dealing with staffing shortages for as long as it has, there’s a danger that high vacancies come to be seen as inevitable and the norm. They are not inevitable, they mustn’t be accepted, and they post serious risks to patient safety and staff wellbeing,' said BMA representative Dr Latifa Patel.

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The data reported that the nursing vacancy rate had increased by 8,528 within six months from March till September of this year.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research at the think tank Health Foundation said: 'The NHS workforce is under extreme pressure, the ongoing impact of Covid and a lack of resource across the health and care system leaves staff with a sense that they cannot deliver the high-quality care they would want for their patients.'

Mrs Charlesworth warned of staff experiencing burnout, sickness and early retirement due to ongoing staffing pressures.

The workforce crisis has had an impact on patient wellbeing and safety as another NHS data set released this week showed that as of November, more than 13,000 patients were fit to leave hospital but were unable to due to lack of provision in the community.

'With more than 13,000 patients a day stuck in hospitals because the community and social care they need to be safely discharged is unavailable, it’s easy to see why health and care is at breaking point,' said RCN director, Patricia Marquis.

Both of these data sets have come as nurses across the country prepare to strike this month over pay and working conditions.

Mrs Marquis said that the government had repeatedly ignored their calls to grant nurses fair pay and address the workforce crisis.

The RCN have attempted to hold serious negotiations this month, to prevent strike action however they were dismissed by the government.

'Unless the Health Secretary changes course 100,000 nurses will be walking out in two weeks’ time,' said Mrs Marquis.