Freedom of Information requests by the Labour Party has revealed that the NHS is short of nearly 100,000 Doctors, Nurses and Healthcare Support Workers. These figures show a significant rise over the last year and come only a month after NHS Employers said staff shortages in the NHS pose a fundamental risk to patient safety.
The figures show that 82 NHS trusts had 35,993 unfilled full-time equivalent posts, representing a 9% vacancy rate. With some of the worse trusts being;
The information demonstrated that mental health services are experiencing some of the worst understaffing, raising questions over ministerial pledges to boost the workforce by 21,000 by 2022.
Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, responding to Labour analysis on vacancy levels in the NHS, said:
“This analysis pulls back the curtain on the state of staffing in the NHS this winter. Despite Ministers’ rhetoric on the importance of safety, it will enter a perilous January without enough staff to give safe care.
“Nurses are spread too thinly and starting to blow the whistle on falling standards. Hospital wards and care homes alike increasingly rely on unregistered healthcare assistants, especially at night. The Government must no longer allow nursing on the cheap – patients, particularly vulnerable and older individuals, can pay the highest price.
“The NHS has never been busier and yet it is haemorrhaging experienced nurses quicker than it can find new ones. A lethal cocktail of pressure inside the NHS and falling pay has left people heading for the door. The NHS advertises for nurses but, too often, new uniforms stay in the box.
“It is time to draw a line under this false economy with a new law and investment in nurse education. We need legislation that makes Ministers and others accountable for proper workforce planning and safe and effective staffing levels.”
The report has sparked fresh concerns over patient safety as nursing and medical roles remain unfilled.