Compared to this time last year, an additional 1,700 nurse posts are vacant. The vacancy rate now stands at 11.6%. In London it is almost 15%.
The RCN is calling, once again, for the Government to ensure it comes up with a sustainable way to tackle staff shortages in the upcoming NHS ten-year plan.
Acting RCN Chief Executive Dame Donna Kinnair said: “Despite everything we know about the consequences for patients and the abundance of research on safe care, the number of unfilled nurse jobs is rising year on year, not falling.
“The forthcoming ten-year plan from NHS England is an opportunity to make a break with this situation.
“Today's reports underline the false economy of leaving posts without permanent staff. Despite earmarking the spending on agency nursing workers as an area for efficiency savings, the health service spent nearly 10% more than planned on plugging gaps in the nursing workforce.
“It is clear as day to nurses, midwives and health care assistants on the ground that the NHS is dealing with unsustainable workforce shortages.
“NHS staff are looking expectantly to the long-term plan to show that help is on the way. Well-intentioned announcements from Government without staff to deliver the care won’t wash anymore and it’s irresponsible, wishful thinking to wait until next year for the spending review to tackle this.
“NHS England must provide at least £1bn per year to invest in nursing higher education to guarantee future safe staffing levels.”