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NHS needs 17,000 more nurses to deal with patient backlog

Lack of government plan to tackle record waiting lists, says former health secretary

The government lacks a plan to find 17,000 more nurses to tackle record waiting lists, says the former health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt

More nurses and NHS workers are needed to tackle record waiting lists, but there is a ‘lack of a plan to find those nurses’, the former health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

Preventing nurses and doctors leaving the profession and attracting new recruits was crucial to addressing a backlog of nearly six million people waiting to receive treatment on the NHS, Mr Hunt said, adding the NHS needs 17,000 more nurses to deal with the backlog.

All-party report says long-term plan needed to fix NHS staffing crisis

Speaking on BBC Radio

The government lacks a plan to find 17,000 more nurses to tackle record waiting lists, says the former health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt

More nurses are needed to tackle record waiting lists, but there the government lacks a plan to find nurses, says the former health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt
Picture: iStock

More nurses and NHS workers are needed to tackle record waiting lists, but there is a ‘lack of a plan to find those nurses’, the former health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

Preventing nurses and doctors leaving the profession and attracting new recruits was crucial to addressing a backlog of nearly six million people waiting to receive treatment on the NHS, Mr Hunt said, adding the NHS needs 17,000 more nurses to deal with the backlog.

All-party report says long-term plan needed to fix NHS staffing crisis

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Hunt, who is chair of the health and social care committee, said: ‘The one thing people are not talking about is a shortage of funding. What they’re talking about is not being able to find the staff to do the work.

‘The biggest gap at the moment in the government’s plans to deal with this huge six million waiting list is a lack of doctors and nurses and a lack of a plan to find those doctors and nurses.

‘You need about 4,000 more doctors, 17,000 more nurses to deal with this backlog, and what we have argued is that you need to have independent forecasts to make sure that we are training enough doctors and nurses.’

It comes as a health and social care committee report found a long-term plan to fix the NHS staffing crisis is needed to tackle the record wait list for treatment.

Government needs to match rhetoric with solid investment, says RCN

By September 2021, there were 5.8 million people waiting to start treatment, with 300,000 waiting more than a year.

Responding to the report, RCN chief executive Pat Cullen said: ‘The cross-party group not only highlight current shortages, but warn that many more are at risk of leaving too as they lose faith in the government's willingness to grip the situation.

‘Tens of thousands of nursing roles were unfilled in the NHS and social care even before the pandemic. To keep today's nursing staff and inspire a new generation, the government needs to match the rhetoric with solid investment.’

More than 13,000 nurses, midwives and nursing associates left NMC register last year

Data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) revealed the number of nurses leaving the profession was at its highest level in four years.

More than 13,000 nurses, midwives and nursing associates left the NMC register in the six months before November.

The Department of Health and Social Care pointed towards the £5.9 billion already committed in the autumn budget to tackle the backlog.

A spokesperson said: ‘We have over 5,100 doctors and nearly 10,000 more nurses in the NHS compared to last year and we’re committed to delivering 50,000 more nurses by the end of this parliament.’


Find out more

UK Parliament (2021) Clearing the Backlog Caused by the Pandemic


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