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Patient care ‘at risk’ as RCN research reveals record 12,000 vacant nursing posts in London

40,000 nursing vacancies reported across England

15 May 2017

RCN is calling for safe staffing levels to be enshrined in law after the new figures revealed record nurse vacancy levels, with London accounting for one in three of all vacant nursing posts in England

The figures, obtained through Freedom of Information Requests (FOI) sent to all London NHS Trusts, show the number of vacant nursing posts in the Capital is now at 12,719, up from 10,140 in 2015; an increase of 25 per cent. One in six of London’s nursing posts are vacant.

The highest nurse vacancy rate was recorded in North Central and East London (18 per cent, 6,886) followed by North West London (15.8 per cent, 2,595) and South London (15 per cent, 3,238).

Nationally, the FOIs reveal a bleak picture in particular care settings, with the nursing workforce in community services down by 14 per cent (5,178 posts) since May 2010 and mental health and learning disabilities services seeing cuts to posts of 12 per cent (4,759) and 33 per cent (1,695) respectively.

As nursing vacancies continue to rise, the FOIs also show that Trusts planned to use a greater proportion of nursing support staff in 2016, than a year earlier.

RCN London Regional Director Bernell Bussue said:

“London is now in the grip of its worst ever nurse shortage which left unchecked will continue to overstretch an already overburdened workforce and damage patient care.

“An ageing workforce, lack of strategic workforce planning, cuts to NHS funding, harsh pay restraint and the failure to guarantee the rights of EU nurses has left London’s care settings more vulnerable than anywhere else in the country to registered nurse shortages.

“Nurses are going above and beyond to protect patient care and despite the best efforts of nursing leaders and employers in collaborative workforce projects such as Capital Nurse, London now accounts for a third of all national nurse vacancies.

“Good patient care relies on having enough nurses, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time. The next government must make these principles the focus of its efforts by giving nurses a decent pay rise, enshrining safe staffing levels in law and giving employers the resources to employ the numbers of nurses they need.”

Safe and Effective Staffing: the Real Picture

RCN report on the current situation in the UK and what needs to be done to address the issues.

Page last updated - 15/06/2018