Exclusive: STPs forecast NHS will employ thousands fewer staff

The NHS’s unpublished proposals for dealing with extreme funding pressure suggest it will employ thousands fewer nurses and other staff in the next few years, and treat tens of thousands fewer emergency patients in hospital.

The findings are based on the detailed finance, workforce and efficiency plans submitted as part of the sustainability and transformation plan process. They have not been published, but HSJ has analysed a sample covering a quarter of the 44 STPs, shared on the basis they are not identified. They include more than one from each of the NHS’s four regions and a mix of rural and urban areas.

The trends they propose would require the health service to buck the established patterns of recent years, in which both emergency activity and the NHS workforce have increased.

National officials have distanced themselves from some of the forecasts, with NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens saying last week: “It is certain that we are going to need more qualified nurses in the National Health Service in five years’ time than now.”

In total, the 11 STPs forecast a 1.6 per cent reduction in whole time equivalent staff between 2016-17 and 2020-21, with a 2.3 per cent reduction in registered nursing posts. If this is applied across England, it indicates reductions of 17,300 overall and 7,300 in the nursing, midwifery and health visitor group, which is dominated by nursing.

Full story in The HSJ 16 January 2017