We are aware some users might find it difficult to log into our site. We are working on this issue and hope to have it resolved shortly.
News

Government rejects calls to address nurse burnout and shortage

Unions say government focus is on cost ‘above all else’ instead of NHS workforce

Unions say the lack of an independent view on what is needed to support the NHS workforce risked the government focusing on cost ‘above all else’

The government has rejected calls for an overhaul of NHS workforce planning amid concerns of staff shortages and a mounting backlog of patients.

It comes after a House of Commons health and social care committee report in 2021 found burnout among nurses and other healthcare professionals had reached an emergency point.

MPs had called for immediate action to support exhausted staff through a plan to cover staffing needs for the next two decades, led

Unions say the lack of an independent view on what is needed to support the NHS workforce risked the government focusing on cost ‘above all else’

Picture: iStock

The government has rejected calls for an overhaul of NHS workforce planning amid concerns of staff shortages and a mounting backlog of patients.

It comes after a House of Commons health and social care committee report in 2021 found burnout among nurses and other healthcare professionals had reached an emergency point.

MPs had called for immediate action to support exhausted staff through a plan to cover staffing needs for the next two decades, led by Health Education England.

Government must focus on preventing further gaps in workforce, say unions

But in a government response to the report, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) rejected calls for independent annual reports on workforce shortages and future staffing requirements.

Instead, a new duty in the recently introduced Health and Care Bill will require the health and social care secretary to publish reports on workforce planning in England every five years.

The duty is intended to compliment ‘investment on workforce planning and supply already underway’, the government’s response states.

But UNISON national nursing officer Stuart Tuckwood said a lack of an independent view on what is needed to support the NHS workforce risked the government focusing on cost ‘above all else’.

‘The urgent focus for this year must be on preventing further gaps from appearing in the workforce, including nursing teams.

‘The failure to grade staff properly for the jobs they do, ensure fair pay for additional hours and deliver flexible work patterns are all reasons cited by nurses, healthcare assistants and other staff for leaving.’

Safe staffing and nurse shortages should be health secretary’s priority

RCN England director Patricia Marquis said a requirement for the health and social care secretary to publish workforce planning reports is ‘wholly inadequate’.

Ms Marquis said the bill only requires the minister to set how workforce planning is organised in England rather than addressing workforce shortages.

‘That’s why we urgently are calling for the bill to be amended as it passes through parliament – to ensure he is responsible for actually producing the future generations of nursing staff we so desperately need,’ she added.

It comes as the DHSC told Nursing Standard it has ‘no current plans’ to introduce safe staffing legislation in England, prompting a backlash from unions who branded the move ‘bitterly disappointing’.

Alongside concerns about safe staffing, a recent RCN survey found thousands of nurses are actively planning to leave their jobs due to exhaustion and feeling undervalued.

A DHSC spokesperson reiterated the government’s 2019 election promise to deliver 50,000 more nurses by the end of this parliament.

‘Vacancies are falling and we are on track to meet the target, with over 11,100 more nurses working in the NHS than last year,’ they said.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Standard
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs