RCN responds to NHS Improvement report on quarterly performance

Press Release 29/11/2018

Ten year plan is a chance to break away from unfilled nursing posts says RCN

In response to a new report from NHS Improvement on the operational and financial performance of the health service in the last quarter, Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary said:

“Just one day after the head of the NHS admits his own plan will not tackle staff shortages1, new damning figures show the scale of the challenge he’s avoiding. 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 - they and Ministers must stop kicking the can down the road. 

“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 ten per cent more than planned on plugging gaps in the nursing workforce. 

“It is clear as day to nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants on the ground that the NHS is dealing with unsustainable workforce shortages.  Compared to this time last year, an additional 1,700 nurse posts are vacant while the vacancy rate has increased too - 11.6 per cent, compared to 11.2 in the same quarter of 2017/18.2 In other parts of the country, like London, the rate is almost 15 per cent.

“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.”


1 - Read the HSJ story here.

2 - in Q2 in 2018/19, The number of WTE vacancies was 40,877. There has been a 4.4% (1,723 WTE vacancies) increase in vacant nursing post since the same quarter last year. Read more in the NHS Improvement report here. 

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