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

Up to one in four mental health nurse posts vacant

Regional vacancy breakdown highlights ‘deepening postcode lottery’ of care and chronic shortage of nurses, RCN warns
Mental health vacancies

One in four mental health nursing posts in London is vacant, pointing to a ‘deepening postcode lottery’ of care, according to the RCN.

The college’s analysis of vacancy rates in the field follows the announcement by prime minister Theresa May last week of an urgent review of mental health services.

The figures, first published in the Sunday Times, show almost one in five mental health nursing posts in the south east (excluding London) are vacant (17.4% or 1,688).

Mental health nurse workforce

May 2010

June 2017

Difference

% change

Total mental health

40,630

35,326

-5,305

-13%

Community mental health

15,512

16,531

1,019

7%

Other mental health (inpatient)

25,118

One in four mental health nursing posts in London is vacant, pointing to a ‘deepening postcode lottery’ of care, according to the RCN.

Picture: iStock

The college’s analysis of vacancy rates in the field follows the announcement by prime minister Theresa May last week of an urgent review of mental health services.

The figures, first published in the Sunday Times, show almost one in five mental health nursing posts in the south east (excluding London) are vacant (17.4% or 1,688).

Mental health nurse workforce

May 2010

June 2017

Difference

% change

Total mental health

40,630

35,326

-5,305

-13%

Community mental health

15,512

16,531

1,019

7%

Other mental health (inpatient)

25,118

18,795

-6,324

-25%

Source: NHS Digital

London has the highest rate, at 25.7% (2,569 vacancies), while the north east has the lowest, at 8.1% (776 empty posts).

The figures offer a regional breakdown of England’s previously reported 10,000 mental health vacancies (see table).

A third of mental health nurses told the RCN their last shift was short of the staff required to provide safe care, and a quarter of the nurses were from agencies.

Rise in detention

As the prime minister’s review prepares to look at detention in mental health, figures from NHS Digital have revealed these rates continue to rise.

One whistleblower from a mental health unit told the RCN: ‘In a mental health unit where patients are [detained] under the Mental Health Act, patients frequently go several days without being able to leave the hospital due to poor staffing levels. This frustrates the patients and leads to an increase in incidents of aggression and violence.’

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘When an individual is detained, the NHS has a duty to keep them safe. But the government presided over a collapse in nurse levels at the same time as detention rates soared.

‘The chronic shortage of nurses means the most vulnerable are being failed and a postcode lottery is deepening. Overstretched nurses cannot cope with greater numbers of people who, at times, can become aggressive or violent.’


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