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Hospitals in England are struggling to recruit enough nurses

Nine in ten hospitals did not have enough nurses on their wards during August

Ingrid Torjesen

Monday, 21 December 2015

More than nine out of ten acute hospitals in England failed to hit their own targets for the numbers of nurses working on wards in August, an analysis by the Health Service Journal has revealed.

The analysis also shows that the proportion of hospitals meeting target nurse staffing levels has fallen since the beginning of the year.

The analysis by the HSJ of figures published by the NHS shows that, in August, 92% of the 225 acute hospital trusts in England did not manage to run wards with their planned number of nurses during the day. The average staffing levels in August were worse than the January figures, when 85% of hospitals missed their staffing targets for nurses working during the day.

In August, 11 hospitals had less than an 80% fill rate against the planned level of registered nurse day hours, 69 had a fill rate of 80-90%, and the majority a fill rate of 90-100%.

The August figures also show that 81% of hospitals failed to have enough registered nurses working at night. Some 79% of hospitals missed their target for registered nurse staffing across both day and night.

The NHS has been struggling to recruit nurses for some time, but the deterioration may also be the result of trusts increasing their planned staffing levels for registered nurses on wards following the publication last year of safe staffing guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson told the HSJ that acute trusts were under “significant pressure around the recruitment of permanent staff”, specifically how to “balance the pressure around finance and the demand around staffing levels”.

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