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42,000 nurse vacancies in England, according to Labour Party estimates

Labour Party says that NHS has more than 100,000 vacant posts in England

  • The NHS has more than 100,000 vacant posts in England 
  • Average nurse vacancy rate an estimated 12.2% across 82 NHS trusts 
  • 72,000 new staff expected to join NHS by 2027

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The NHS has more than 100,000 vacant posts – including 42,000 nurse vacancies – the Labour Party has estimated.

Information obtained by the party from 82 NHS trusts in England found that the average nurse vacancy rate was 12.2%.

After extrapolating the figures, it estimated that health services across the country has more than 42,000 nursing vacancies.

The total of full-time equivalent vacancies for doctors was 9.3% – equating to more than 11,000 positions across the sector.

The full-time equivalent vacancy rate for all staff across England's acute, community and mental health trusts is 9%, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said.

This is a rise from 8.4% last year, said Mr Ashworth.

‘Enter a perilous January without enough staff’

The RCN general secretary has warned the analysis showed the NHS would ‘enter a perilous January without enough staff to give safe care’. She added: ‘This analysis pulls back the curtain on the state of staffing in the NHS this winter.

‘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, yet it is haemorrhaging experienced nurses quicker than it can find new ones.’

190,000 more clinical posts needed over next ten years 

Last week, Health Education England (HEE) published a draft health and care workforce strategy that found the NHS in England will need 190,000 more clinical posts over the next ten years to meet growing demand.

But if supply continues at the rate of the last five years, 72,000 new staff are expected to join the NHS by 2027.

It found that despite an increase in staff in most disciplines since 2012, the health service was still overstretched, partly due to population growth of 2.1 million in the last five years.

HEE has now launched a consultation to recruit and retain existing staff in a bid to increase the workforce.

‘£3 billion a year on temporary staff to plug the gaps’

Mr Ashworth said: ‘Tory mismanagement of the NHS workforce has been a disaster for staff and patients alike.

‘For years the government has failed to ensure enough new recruits coming through in key specialities, while failed policy decisions like the NHS pay cap and the ending of the NHS bursary have contributed to a growing crisis.

‘What’s more, trusts are having to spend £3 billion a year on temporary staff to plug the gaps, meaning money that should be going to front-line services is going on agency fees instead.

‘There is now an urgent need for a sustainable, fully-funded plan to get the right numbers of staff in place to keep patients safe.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The latest NHS Digital figures show there are over 32,300 more professionally qualified clinical staff working in the NHS since 2010 and we are increasing training places for doctors and nurses by 25%.’

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