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NHS staffing shortages causing concern

View profile for Kelly Withers
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NHS staffing shortages causing concern

A group of leading think tanks have produced a joint paper predicting that more patients are going to be directed to a pharmacist or physiotherapist over the next decade rather than being seen by their GP, due to doctor shortages.

In a joint paper, The Nuffield Trust, Health Foundation and King’s Fund have estimated that nurse shortages will double to 70,000 within the next 5 years, and 100,000 in 10 years. They consider that GP vacancies will increase from 3,000 to 7,000 in the next 5 years, and to 11,000 in the next 10 years.

King’s Fund say that staffing is a make-or-break issue for the NHS in England. Workforce shortages are severe, and are having a direct impact on patient care and staff experience now. They are calling for urgent action to avoid a vicious cycle of growing staff shortages and declining quality. They suggest that the workforce implementation plan to be published later this year presents a pivotal opportunity to do this.

It is estimated that NHS England needs around £900m per year to save services from a staffing crisis. The joint paper suggests that even this vast amount may not be enough to rescue nursing from the staff shortage. Their proposed remedies include more supply of new staff; ensuring the pay policy supports recruitment and retention; making the NHS a better place to work and sustain a career; workforce redesign including technological support; and international recruitment. 

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