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NHS staff shortages could triple in a decade, think tanks warn

This article was taken from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/11/15/nhs-staff-shortages-could-triple-decade-think-tanks-warn/

By BBC Health news

NHS staff shortages could triple in a decade, without a radical boost to recruitment efforts, major thinktanks have warned.

Analysis by the King’s Fund, the Health Foundation and the Nuffield Trust suggests the health service could be short of more than 350,000 staff if it continues to lose staff and cannot attract enough from abroad.

On such trends, one in four posts would be vacant, compared with one in eight today.

The think tanks said “worryingly” high numbers of hospital doctors and nurses were taking early retirement, and not being replaced in sufficient numbers.

It follows research which shows just one in 20 trainee GP intends to work full-time, with the average family doctor working just three and a half days.

The report’s authors urged health officials to draw up a credible strategy to recruit and retain staff along side a 10 year plan for the NHS, which is due to be published next month.

Without such measures, waiting lists could grow, and patient care deteriorate, despite a £20bn funding boost planned for the health service, they warned.

Candace Imison, director of policy at the Nuffield Trust said: “The NHS has a woeful track record in ensuring that the health service has the right numbers of staff it needs in all the right places. “This has now reached a critical juncture: unless the NHS Long Term Plan puts in place urgent and credible measures to shore up the workforce both in the short term and in the longer term, it risks being a major failure.

“Solving the acute and systemic problems affecting the healthcare workforce will not be easy, but we owe it to patients, staff and taxpayers to start now.”

Richard Murray, director of  policy at The King’s Fund, said: “The NHS cannot meet increasing demand from patients without the workforce to staff services. Unless the NHS long-term plan is linked to a credible strategy for recruiting and retaining staff, there is a real risk that some of the extra funding pledged by the government will go unspent and waiting lists for treatment will continue to grow.”

Anita Charlesworth, director of economics at the Health Foundation said:  “The NHS is overstretched and services are being compromised by serious staff shortages. As things stand, this problem will only get worse over the next decade, putting access and quality of care at risk.

“Unless the government and system leaders take radical action and prioritise the NHS workforce, staffing shortages will more than double to almost a quarter of a million by 2030. The NHS can’t sustain current services, let alone improve, with such a large and growing gap between the staff it needs and the people available to provide care.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The NHS runs on the dedication of its workforce and ensuring we have the right staff in the right place is the only way we can guarantee the future of the health service. Workforce planning will be at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan, supporting our drive to expand the medical, nursing and midwifery workforces by 25 per cent and ensuring our record numbers of staff get the support they need to deliver excellent, safe care for patients.”