Statistics show that NHS vacancies have risen by more than 10% in the last year, with over 30,000 posts currently vacant.
Data collated from NHS Jobs, the main recruitment website for NHS England, shows that between January and March 2017, a total of 86,055 vacancies were advertised, up from 78,112 in the first quarter of 2016. However, the overall figure of vacancies is likely to be higher as each advert may stand for multiple vacancies.
Of the vacancies advertised by NHS England in March 2017, 30,613 were for full-time positions, which was up from 26,424 in March 2016. Almost 40% of the vacancies advertised in March 2017 were for NHS nursing and midwifery positions.
Janet Davies, Head of Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said that “NHS staffing levels are reaching a crisis point”. She said: “At the very moment the NHS needs to be recruiting more nursing staff, we learn the number is falling and the NHS finds itself advertising for more jobs we know it cannot fill.”
Nurses have warned that patient safety is suffering as people are deterred from the profession by “low pay, relentless pressure and new training costs”.
Phillippa Hentsch, Head of analysis at NHS Providers said that the issue of recruitment and retention of staff in the NHS is “as serious as concerns over funding.” In its official response after the figures were released, the Department of Health focused on the numbers of new staff that have joined the health service in recent years, rather than how many may have left. A department spokesperson said that “Staffing is a priority – that’s why we have invested in the frontline and there are almost 32,400 more professionally qualified clinical staff including almost 11,800 more doctors, and over 12,500 more nurses on our wards since May 2010,”.
Despite this, Dr Andrew Dearden of the British Medical Association said that “Across many parts of the NHS, recruitment and retention problems are leaving staff and services thinly stretched and affecting patients’ access to care”.
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