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New figures shine spotlight on nurse shortages

NHS fills one nurse job for every 7 advertised

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Parts of the NHS are hiring only one nurse for every 400 jobs advertised, new figures reveal.

The statistics from NHS Digital show that the number of vacant nursing jobs reached a new high in the quarter to the end of September 2017 - 34,260 vacant NHS nurse and midwifery posts were advertised, an increase of 2,400 on the previous quarter.

The number of advertised vacancy full-time equivalents varied between the National Workforce Data Set Staff Groups. In September 2017, the highest percentage was seen in the 'Nursing and Midwifery Registered' Staff Group which accounted for 40% (11,247 out of 28,242) of vacancy full-time equivalents, followed by 21% (6,022 out of 28,242) in the 'Administrative and Clerical' Staff Group.

According to the Royal College of Nursing, a greater number of nursing staff are leaving the NHS than joining.

The latest data shows the NHS filled one nurse job for every seven posts advertised across England – while the NHS in the Thames Valley area hired only five nurses for 1,957 advertised posts (one in 400) and the NHS in North West London recruited 42 for 2,545 posts (less than one in 50). The West Midlands NHS filled the greatest number of posts – hiring 1,196 for 2,817 roles advertised.

Commenting, Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These figures pull back the curtain to reveal an NHS desperately short of nurses. The Government can no longer deny the staffing crisis.

"The next generation of British nurses has been deterred by the current whirlwind tearing through the NHS – record pressure, lack of funding and poor pay for staff. It has never been busier but is shedding experienced nurses quicker than it can find new ones. Earlier cuts to training places are exacerbating the problem just as long-serving staff feel demoralised and pushed to leave nursing.”

She added: “When the Government allows nursing on the cheap, patients can pay the highest price. It is time to draw a line under this false economy with urgent investment in services and those who provide them – including a pay rise above inflation – and legislation to make Ministers accountable for workforce planning and safe staffing levels.”

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