NHS staff shortages set to worsen: Recruiter responds

Laverne Higgins
November 17, 2018

It warns that, even before this funding increase was pledged, the NHS can not recruit the staff it needs because of an "incoherent approach to workforce policy at a national level, poor workforce planning, restrictive immigration policies and inadequate funding for training".

Analysis by the King's Fund, the Health Foundation and the Nuffield Trust suggests the health service could be short of more than 350,000 staff if it continues to lose staff and cannot attract enough from overseas.

NHS bosses led by the NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, who are finalising long-term plans for the health service - which will set out how the £20.5bn is spent - need to include in it a "credible workforce strategy" that plans for an oversupply of NHS staff, given the recruitment problems, the report says.

Richard Murray, policy director at the King's Fund, told the Press Association the NHS had less than a year to address the problem. It predicts an increase in NHS staff shortages from over 100,000 at present to nearly 250,000 by 2030.

"Unless the government and system leaders take radical action and prioritise the NHS workforce, staffing shortages will more than double to nearly a quarter of a million by 2030".

The NHS plan will include measures to improve the training of health professionals, ensure the continued recruitment of staff from overseas and try to persuade those working for internal NHS staff "banks" to become salaried instead, he told the HSJ website in an interview.

The NHS faces significant workforce shortages already, with more than 100,000 vacancies reported across trusts this summer.

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The experts blame the situation on "an incoherent approach to workforce policy at a national level, poor workforce planning, restrictive immigration policies and inadequate funding for training places".

The think tanks said "worryingly" high numbers of hospital doctors and nurses were taking early retirement, and not being replaced in sufficient numbers.

Funding for education and training dropped from 5% of health spending in 2006 to 3% in 2018, the equivalent of a £2 billion drop.

"The secretary of state will be judged on whether his NHS Plan implements a credible, resourced strategy to ensure our NHS has the staff it needs".

Hare argued that whilst the ambition for integrated care is "absolutely the right one", there is a risk that delivering integrated, patient-centred care may be misconstrued as simply bringing everything under one organisation where "the only people around the table being the incumbent NHS providers".

"Workforce planning will be at the heart of the NHS long term plan, supporting our drive to expand the medical, nursing and midwifery workforces by 25% and ensuring our record numbers of staff get the support they need to deliver excellent, safe care for patients".

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