This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

New figures reveal extent of NHS staffing crisis

Written by: | Published:

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.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.



Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.