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London has 'critical' shortage of 10,000 nurses, says RCN

New research by the RCN indicates a critical shortage of nurses in the capital 

Nearly one in five nursing posts in London is vacant, according to new research that reveals a ‘critical’ shortage of nurses in the capital.

Figures published today by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and based on Freedom of Information requests to all London 36 NHS trusts show that there were more than 10,000 empty nursing posts across the trusts last year.

This figure is equivalent to 17% of all registered nursing posts in the capital, a rise of 6% in two years, from 14% in 2014 and 11% in 2013.

The nursing vacancy rate in London is much higher than the national average of 10%.

The research shows that some London trusts have vacancy rates of close to one third.

RCN London regional director Bernell Bussue said that urgent action should be taken by the government to ensure patient care is not affected by the shortages.

He said the problem was due in part to ‘shortsighted’ workforce planning, which has led to cuts in training posts.

Mr Bussue added that this has led to a scarcity of home-grown nurses coming through the system.

He also blamed the cost of living in the capital, saying: ‘Most importantly, the ongoing pay freeze imposed by the government means that nursing staff increasingly cannot afford to live and work in London.

‘Pay has run 10% below inflation since 2010.

'The government urgently needs to give nursing staff a pay rise at a level that helps them settle in the capital for the long term.’

Many trusts are struggling to recruit permanent staff and have resorted to expensive solutions, such as using temporary agency staff or recruiting overseas.

Some trusts are also running many more vacancies than in previous years.

The five highest nursing vacancy rates in London are:

• London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, at 30%
• South West London Mental Health NHS Trust, at 30%
• South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, at 26%
• Hounslow and Richmond Community Health NHS Trust, at 25%
• West London Mental Health NHS Trust, at 22%

At the other end of the scale, Central and North West London Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, had rates of 3% and 6% respectively.

The RCN surveyed the trusts last July.

Nursing vacancies at London NHS Trusts (Source: Royal College of Nursing London)

Trust

Total WTE registered nursing vacancies, July 2015

Nursing vacancy rate, July 2015

LONDON TOTAL

10140

17%

Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust

333

17%

Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust

185

19%

Barts Health NHS Trust

1044

19%

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust

44

12%

Central and North West London Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

58

3%

Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust

237

20%

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

225

17%

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust

258

20%

East London NHS Foundation Trust

232

17%

Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust

399

22%

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation

81

6%

Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

677

14%

Hillingdon Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

114

14%

Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

136

11%

Hounslow and Richmond Community Health NHS Trust

79

25%

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

573

15%

King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

653

16%

Kingston Hospital NHS Trust

192

20%

Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust*

297

16%

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

63

13%

North East London NHS Foundation Trust

304

18%

North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust

88

13%

London North West Healthcare NHS Trust

811

30%

Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust

204

16%

Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust

197

14%

Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust

528

17%

Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

130

11%

Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust

43

11%

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

440

26%

South West London Mental Health NHS Trust

159

30%

St George's Healthcare NHS Trust

477

14%

Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

2

12%

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust*

419

15%

West London Mental Health NHS Trust

242

22%

West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust

56

9%

Whittington Hospital NHS Trust

159

12%

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