Greatest NHS shortage in history

Posted on 02 August 2022

The lack of healthcare professionals including nurses across the country is posing as a serious risk to patient and employee safety. The latest report from the Health and Social Care Committee suggests that the “NHS in England is short of more than 50,000 nurses and midwives, as well as 12,000 hospital doctors.”

The report also stated that 475,000 jobs are needed in the healthcare industry and an extra 490,000 in the social sector, by 2030. The group has claimed there is a “marked reluctance” from the government to face the shortages in the healthcare industry, with no evidence of a published plan which was promised to be in place by spring.

The committee’s article summaries a bank of evidence taken in conferences discussing recruitment, retention, and training programmes of the specialists with key stakeholders and nurses. Denise Chaffer, the Royal College of Nursing president, informed the board about the “critical” requirement to improve retention problems in the industry, by increasing their pay. It is known that Chaffer reported that nurses were “unable to pay their rent, unable to afford petrol to get to work and unable to get a mortgage.”

The response stated that this is “unacceptable” and urged leadership to give all NHS staff employed under Agenda for Change a “pay award that takes adequate account of the cost-of-living crisis”.

The latest report includes the announcement that NHS nurses in England will be receiving a £1,400 pay rise for 2022-23. This has been heavily criticised by unions and the RCN to prepare to see an industrial action ballot of its members. Another concern highlighted in the report was the target for 50,000 more nurses by 2024 which was announced by the government.

A response from the committee describes this as “not having any meaningful impact on the true scale of nursing shortages”.

To conclude, the report warned that staff shortages in the industry were becoming dangerous and causing a “serious risk” to both staff and patient safety. The Department of Health and Social Care responded with “We hugely value and appreciate the dedication and contribution of NHS and social care staff.”

They claimed there were now 9,600 more nurses working in England compared to 2021 and that they remain eager to deliver on its promise of 50,000 more nurses by 2024.​

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