NHS risks 350,000 staff gap by 2030 - thinktanks

NHS ‘could be short of 350,000 staff by 2030’

The NHS is already struggling with growing staff shortages, with a record 107,000 unfilled vacancies and more staff working part-time.

The three organisations revealed that there is a shortage of more than 100,000 staff across NHS trusts which, based on current trends, could nearly reach 250,000 by 2030.

The health care workforce in England: make or break? - draws on a new forecast of the staffing gaps emerging in the 1.2 million-strong NHS workforce.

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.

"Unless new NHS staff can quickly be recruited and trained, the NHS simply will not have the workers available to meet the demand for healthcare expected over the next decade".

"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".

The report said funding for education and training dropped from five per cent of health spending in 2006-7 to three per cent in 2018-19, the equivalent of a £2bn drop.

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If this problem does not subside, they could lead to even bigger waiting lists, deteriorating care quality, and a risk that some of the £20.5bn secured for frontline services will go unspent - as even if CCGs commission additional activity, providers may not have the staff to deliver it.

Address inequalities in recruitment, pay and career progression. This should involve a much more coherent and transparent approach to planning and strategy development.

The briefing also address problems in social care, which too is hampered by substantial staffing shortages and is especially vulnerable to plans to cut low-skilled migration.

The report says a ten-year long-term plan for the NHS, which is due out next month, must include a funded, credible strategy to tackle the problem.

Anita Charlesworth, director of economics at the Health Foundation, said: "The NHS is overstretched and services are being compromised by serious staff shortages".

"Unless the government and system leaders take radical action and prioritise the NHS workforce, staffing shortages will more than double to nearly a quarter of a million by 2030". However, on current trends, analysts project that the gap between staff needed and the number available could reach nearly 250,000 by 2020. To put it in perspective, 350,000 people is more than the population of Coventry.

"Integration is the most significant reform to health and social care services since the creation of the health service in 1948".

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