A hidden workforce crisis in the NHS?

Published: 12 November 2013

Traffic lightThe RCN has launched a report which reveals there are nearly 20,000 nursing vacancies currently unfilled in England; a ‘hidden workforce crisis’ that could have serious consequences for the NHS.
Figures from Running the red light show the scale of the problem of understaffing is far larger than the official numbers – which show the NHS in England has lost only 3,859 full-time nurses, midwives and health visitors since May 2010.

“A wake-up call”

Calling for the report to be a “wake-up call” to the scale of nursing understaffing in the NHS,  Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN says: “We sit on the verge of a hidden workforce crisis that desperately needs addressing to ensure the NHS runs properly and patients get the care they deserve.”

The report also highlights a 15 per cent cut in the number of nursing student places commissioned since 2010-11, and forecasts a shortage of 47,000 registered nurses by 2016.

“End boom and bust workforce planning”

The RCN has outlined a list of urgent priorities for achieving safe staffing in NHS services today, and long-term planning to secure a workforce fit for the needs of tomorrow, including mandatory workforce planning and robust systems of review.

Dr Peter Carter, added: “Unsafe staffing levels have been implicated in a number of high profile investigations into patient safety - we call on employers in the NHS to put an end to boom and bust workforce planning and develop clear standards to ensure safe staffing levels are met, supported by robust inspection based on reliable data.”

Read the full Running the read light report on the Frontline First website.