UK health service risks 350000 staff gap by 2030: thinktanks

PA Archive  PA Images               A GP

PA Archive PA Images A GP

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

"If the emerging trend of staff leaving the workforce early continues and the pipeline of newly trained staff and worldwide recruits does not rise sufficiently, this number could be more than 350,000 by 2030", according to the briefing by the King's Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation. The NHS employs about 1.2 million people.

Reasons behind the current shortages include the fragmentation of responsibility for workforce issues at a national level, poor planning, cuts in training funding, restrictive immigration policies made worse by Brexit, and "worryingly high" numbers of doctors and nurses leaving their jobs early, the review found.

It predicts an increase in NHS staff shortages from over 100,000 at present to nearly 250,000 by 2030.

"This has now reached a critical juncture: unless the NHS Long Term Plan puts in place urgent and credible measures to shore up the workforce both in the short term and in the longer term, it risks being a major failure".

"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". "Solving the acute and systemic problems affecting the healthcare workforce will not be easy, but we owe it to patients, staff and taxpayers to start now".

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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.

Deliver a sustainable workforce over the next 10 years.

Strengthen workforce and health service planning.

"NHS workers across all occupations are being driven out by excessive workload, low pay and rising demand caused by cuts to social care".

"If you wait another 12 months the problem is just getting worse".

But if skilled workers cannot be attracted from overseas the shortage could reach 350,000 - roughly a quarter of the 1.2million workforce. However, on current trends, analysts project that the gap between staff needed and the number available could reach nearly 250,000 by 2020. National action is also required: we must secure more flexibility with the use of the apprenticeship levy as well as re-instating funds to support CPD and workforce development. "The potential for a profound and long-term shift in the way health and social care services are delivered is clear, but there is still a long way to go".

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