Nursing workforce described as a ‘ticking timebomb’

Posted on 29 September 2022

The need for healthcare workers is more important than ever before. The World Health

Organisation has released a statement describing the situation as severe across Europe and

the UK. The shortage has caused WHO to encourage the healthcare industry to recruit, train

and retain the future of healthcare workers.

A new report by the organisation looking at number of nurses vs the population discovered

that overall, the United Kingdom sits far behind countries in the EU. The report also reveals

the number of NHS nurse shortages in England has reached a record high of nearly 47,000.

Reports from 2020 looking at the nursing situation in abroad shows that there were

between 100-200 nurses per 10,000 people in western/northern Europe. Compared to 85

per 10,000 in the UK. We are also training less healthcare workers than other countries – we

need to act within the next ten years to ensure that the staff is replaced when a generation

of workers eventually retire.

The pandemic of COVID-19 is believed to have significantly increased pre-existed pressures

within the healthcare industry. Introducing longer working hours, unfit working

environments and a higher death rate – all factors taking its toll on nurses and doctors who

had been in the profession for years.

The regional director of WHO Europe, DR Hans Kluge commented on the situation:

“All of these threats represent a ticking time bomb which, if not addressed, is likely to lead

to poor health outcomes across the board, long waiting times for treatment, many

preventable deaths, and potentially even health system collapse. The time to act on health

and care workforce shortages is now.”

Howard Catton, the Chief Executive of International council of nurses also made comment:

“This cannot wait. We need action now, not some five or ten-year plan that never comes to


In summary, the World Health Organisation has stated 10 recommendations to help

strengthen the health care workforce: touching on education, protecting mental health and

wellbeing of the staff and promoting a healthy, positive work life balance.​

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