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

Henrietta Strickland
November 17, 2018

Richard Murray, policy director at the King's Fund, told the Press Association the NHS had less than a year to address the problem.

It predicts an increase in NHS staff shortages from over 100,000 at present to nearly 250,000 by 2030.

"The blueprint for how the NHS will spend an additional £20.5bn a year by 2023-4, as outlined in this year's Budget, is expected to be published within weeks - but we're now firmly reaching a stage where talent shortages are a greater threat to the future of the NHS than funding, and any future strategy must have a plan to address the workforce crisis at its core".

But if skilled workers cannot be attracted from overseas the shortage could reach 350,000 - roughly a quarter of the 1.2million workforce.

The NHS plan will include measures to improve the training of health professionals, ensure the continued recruitment of staff from overseas and try to persuade those working for internal NHS staff "banks" to become salaried instead, he told the HSJ website in an interview. The three think tanks argue that the interdependence of the two sectors means that any attempt to tackle one area must be accompanied by plans to address workforce problems in the other.

"Systemic" shortages in the NHS workforce mean long-term plans for the health service risk becoming an unachievable wish list, according to healthcare experts, who have cited forecasts that more than one in six posts could be unfilled by 2030.

"After years of government mismanagement, combined with the deepest financial squeeze in history, our NHS is now short of over 100,000 staff - including tens of thousands of doctors and nurses".

The leading think tanks have identified a range of reasons for the impending shortages, including: the fragmentation of responsibility for workforce issues at a national level; poor workforce planning; cuts in funding for training places; "worryingly" high numbers of doctors and nurses quitting before retirement age; and the effect of immigration policies.

"The secretary of state will be judged on whether his NHS Plan implements a credible, resourced strategy to ensure our NHS has the staff it needs".

Caroline Gardner, auditor general, said: "All partners, at a national and local level, need to work together to ensure the successful delivery of integrated health and social care services in Scotland".

"It brings together nearly £9 billion which was previously managed separately in Health Boards and Councils, and this year includes more than £550 million of NHS frontline investment to support integration and social care".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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