Parts of NHS England only able to fill one in 400 nursing vacancies

The Guardian. January 23, 2018

Official figures show more unfilled nurse and midwife posts than ever recorded

The NHS’s deepening shortage of nurses is worst in the part of England that contains Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency, with hospitals there only able to recruit one nurse for every 400 vacancies they have, new NHS figures reveal.

Official figures show more unfilled nurse and midwife posts than ever recorded

The NHS’s deepening shortage of nurses is worst in the part of England that contains Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency, with hospitals there only able to recruit one nurse for every 400 vacancies they have, new NHS figures reveal.

Hospitals in the Thames Valley managed to fill just five of the 1,957 vacancies for nurses that they advertised between April and June – a success rate of 0.25% – according to the latest official NHS vacancy statistics.

NHS Digital’s quarterly update detailing vacancy rates for a range of health professionals also showed that the number of unfilled advertised nursing and midwifery posts in England reached 34,260 in the three months to September – the highest level since records began.

The Royal College of Nursing voiced its alarm at how the unprecedented number of such vacancies had revealed “an NHS desperately short of nurses”.

Hospitals in London are also finding it almost impossible to recruit new nurses, according to NHS Digital’s new figures. For example, NHS care providers in north-west London advertised on NHS Jobs to recruit 2,545 nurses and midwives in April, May and June but only managed to get 42 new faces – 1.65% of those they were seeking.

Similarly, the NHS in north, central and east London could only hire 75 of the 2,243 nurses and midwives they wanted – a fill rate of only 3.3%.

Across England as a whole, only one in seven of all empty nursing posts were filled.

“These [today’s] figures pull back the curtain to reveal an NHS desperately short of nurses. The government can no longer deny the staffing crisis,” said Janet Davies, the RCN’s chief executive and general secretary.

“The next generation of British nurses has been deterred by the current whirlwind tearing through the NHS – record pressure, lack of funding and poor pay for staff. It has never been busier but is shedding experienced nurses quicker than it can find new ones. Earlier cuts to training places are exacerbating the problem just as long-serving staff feel demoralised and pushed to leave nursing,” she added.

The high cost of living in the Thames Valley and the capital, especially housing, as well as disillusion with NHS pay having been held down for the past seven years and bursaries for student nurses being scrapped, are thought to be key factors in the worrying trend.

The Royal Berkshire hospital in Reading – the main hospital used by many of the prime minister’s constituents – has been struggling to recruit enough nurses in recent years.

The number of nursing vacancies has jumped by 2,626 (8.3%) over the past year from 31,634 to 34,260, according to NHS Digital’s analysis of posts advertised on NHS Jobs, the health service’s main recruitment website. However NHS Digital stressed that trusts can also employ nurses using other means.

The figures confirm other recent evidence that the health service is now seeing more nurses leave than join for the first time in its history. Last week the NHS’s statistical arm disclosed that one in 10 of all nurses now quits each year. Statistics it released then showed that during 2016-17, just under 33,500 nurses left the service – 3,000 more than joined and 20% higher than the number who quit in 2012-13.

Hospitals in Surrey – where health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt is an MP – and Kent and Sussex are also failing to recruit enough nurses and midwives.

Between April and June, NHS bodies managed to recruit just 303 of the 3,225 nurses and midwives they needed – a success rate of 9.4%. The West Midlands had the highest success rate (42.4%) with such staff, closely followed by the north-east (39.4%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (27.4%).

The overall number of vacancies for all types of staff – including doctors, scientific, therapists, administrative and clerical personnel – which hospitals across England advertised to fill in July to September hit 87,964.

That was also the highest number since NHS Digital began collecting vacancy data in April 2105 and publishing it quarterly. The figures show that NHS bodies were also short of 10,498 doctors and dentists in that quarter.

 in the Thames Valley managed to fill just five of the 1,957 vacancies for nurses that they advertised between April and June – a success rate of 0.25% – according to the latest official NHS vacancy statistics.

NHS Digital’s quarterly update detailing vacancy rates for a range of health professionals also showed that the number of unfilled advertised nursing and midwifery posts in England reached 34,260 in the three months to September – the highest level since records began.

The Royal College of Nursing voiced its alarm at how the unprecedented number of such vacancies had revealed “an NHS desperately short of nurses”.

Hospitals in London are also finding it almost impossible to recruit new nurses, according to NHS Digital’s new figures. For example, NHS care providers in north-west London advertised on NHS Jobs to recruit 2,545 nurses and midwives in April, May and June but only managed to get 42 new faces – 1.65% of those they were seeking.

Similarly, the NHS in north, central and east London could only hire 75 of the 2,243 nurses and midwives they wanted – a fill rate of only 3.3%.

Across England as a whole, only one in seven of all empty nursing posts were filled.

“These [today’s] figures pull back the curtain to reveal an NHS desperately short of nurses. The government can no longer deny the staffing crisis,” said Janet Davies, the RCN’s chief executive and general secretary.

“The next generation of British nurses has been deterred by the current whirlwind tearing through the NHS – record pressure, lack of funding and poor pay for staff. It has never been busier but is shedding experienced nurses quicker than it can find new ones. Earlier cuts to training places are exacerbating the problem just as long-serving staff feel demoralised and pushed to leave nursing,” she added.

The high cost of living in the Thames Valley and the capital, especially housing, as well as disillusion with NHS pay having been held down for the past seven years and bursaries for student nurses being scrapped, are thought to be key factors in the worrying trend.

The Royal Berkshire hospital in Reading – the main hospital used by many of the prime minister’s constituents – has been struggling to recruit enough nurses in recent years.

The number of nursing vacancies has jumped by 2,626 (8.3%) over the past year from 31,634 to 34,260, according to NHS Digital’s analysis of posts advertised on NHS Jobs, the health service’s main recruitment website. However NHS Digital stressed that trusts can also employ nurses using other means.

The figures confirm other recent evidence that the health service is now seeing more nurses leave than join for the first time in its history. Last week the NHS’s statistical arm disclosed that one in 10 of all nurses now quits each year. Statistics it released then showed that during 2016-17, just under 33,500 nurses left the service – 3,000 more than joined and 20% higher than the number who quit in 2012-13.

Hospitals in Surrey – where health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt is an MP – and Kent and Sussex are also failing to recruit enough nurses and midwives.

Between April and June, NHS bodies managed to recruit just 303 of the 3,225 nurses and midwives they needed – a success rate of 9.4%. The West Midlands had the highest success rate (42.4%) with such staff, closely followed by the north-east (39.4%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (27.4%).

The overall number of vacancies for all types of staff – including doctors, scientific, therapists, administrative and clerical personnel – which hospitals across England advertised to fill in July to September hit 87,964.

That was also the highest number since NHS Digital began collecting vacancy data in April 2105 and publishing it quarterly. The figures show that NHS bodies were also short of 10,498 doctors and dentists in that quarter.

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