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Knowledge Hub

Staff shortages now dangerous, says think-tank

Has the NHS staffing situation reached a crisis point?

Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards has called NHS staffing levels ‘dangerous’ in a comment on NHS Improvement’s quarterly performance figures, which for the first time include staff vacancies.

Mr Edwards praised the regulator for publishing workforce data, but issued a grim warning about a lack of progress on filling vacancies.

He said that current policies are not sufficient to tackle the problem, which sees one in 10 NHS nursing posts vacant. Mr Edwards also claimed that nursing applications were not increasing fast enough, particularly at a time when a new language test and the prospect of a Brexit migration crackdown were discouraging European nurses from taking NHS posts.

He also slammed an 8% vacancy rate for doctors’ posts, which rises to 12% in mental health.

He said that shortage of workers was more worrying than the shortage of funding because ‘there is no button to push which will suddenly bring us tens of thousands of qualified extra staff’.

Further information

NHS Improvement: Quarterly performance of the NHS provider sector: quarter 3 2017/18
Nuffield Trust: Response to NHSI figures