The Health and Care Bill – a chance to solve the NHS staffing crisis?

Despite the headline-grabbing challenges of the pandemic, the problem of staff shortages – following more than a decade of underfunding – remains the biggest long-term issue facing the NHS, and the new Health and Care Bill does little to redress this situation.

Even before the virus hit, research by thinktanks the Nuffield Trust and the King’s Fund showed staff shortages were rife across all sectors of the NHS – from midwives (where one in five posts are unfilled) and mental health professionals (down by 3,000 since 2009) to GPs (with 2,500 vacancies), hospital doctors (with more than 9,000 vacancies) and radiologists, as well as nurses (where there are 38,000 vacancies).

NHS hospitals, mental health services and community providers together report shortages totalling almost 85,000 staff. The Health Foundation noted last December that the numbers in community nursing, mental health nursing and learning disability nursing were all lower than they were in June 2010, and that the UK ranks below the average of high-income OECD countries in terms of the number of practising nurses and the annual number of new nurse graduates relative to its population.

Full story in The Lowdown, 29 July 2021