44,000 Nurse vacancies = 12% of the workforce. Cheaper staff and less spend means more deaths…

Shaun Lintern on 3rd December for The Independent reports: Leaked NHS document reveals government plans to use cheaper staff to fill nurse vacancies.

A leaked NHS document reveals that plans to grow the number of nurses rely on using 10,000 cheaper and less qualified staff.

Even then, the health service will still be more than 20,000 nurses short of what is needed in five years’ time, according to the file seen by the Health Service Journal and The Independent, for the as yet unpublished NHS People Plan.

The projections could be problematic for Boris Johnson, who has promised 50,000 more nurses by 2024 – although 18,500 of these are existing staff he hopes to retain….

Meanwhile the Times reported: nursing applicants fall by almost 20% in two years

Rebecca Taylor for Sky News reports: Leak of Jeremy Corbyn’s NHS papers raises ‘spectre of foreign influence’  – Researchers from a think tank say the papers emerged in a similar way to a former disinformation campaign from Russia.

The leak of documents which Labour claim show the NHS is on the table in trade talks with the US resembles a former Russian disinformation campaign, experts have said……

2019 – James Buchan’s report for “health.org.uk” Falling short: the NHS workforce challenge – …

2017 – The nursing workforce – Parliament (publications)

Richard Stephens in the Times 29th November 2019: NHS uses healthcare assistants and nursing associates to fill big staffing gaps

The Conservatives’ pledge to provide 50,000 more nurses was thrown into doubt as a report showed that the health service was relying on less qualified staff to plug huge gaps.

There are almost 44,000 nursing vacancies across the NHS, 12 per cent of the nursing workforce, but this could hit 100,000 vacancies in a decade, the Health Foundation charity said.

Support staff, such as healthcare assistants and nursing associates, have been used to shore up staffing numbers, according to the charity.

Its report also found that the number of full-time equivalent GPs fell by 1.6 per cent, from 27,834 in March last year to 27,381 in March this year. It showed that the biggest increase in NHS staff was among managers (6.2 per cent) and senior managers (5.7 per cent).

The report stated that a government target to recruit 5,000 more GPs by next year would be impossible to meet. Temporary staff and GPs in training were making up a greater proportion of the GP workforce than ever before, while non-GP clinical staff were playing an “increasing role in the delivery of care”.

The Tories say that the 50,000 nursing jobs will be achieved by training more staff, international recruitment and better retention.

Anita Charlesworth of the Health Foundation, said the shortages were “impacting on the front line”. “Services are being forced to make do with shortfalls of increasingly pressured nurses and rely on less-skilled support staff to pick up the slack,” she said.

A separate study suggested that the number of people searching for nursing jobs had slumped in the past two years. The online job site Indeed found that potential applicants fell by more than 17 per cent in the two years to October…..

Rhys Blakely reported 28th November in the Times: NHS spends least on patient health

The NHS is lagging behind the healthcare systems of other developed countries in spending, staff numbers and avoidable deaths, a study has found.

A comparison with the healthcare systems of nine other wealthy countries suggested that austerity policies and lower numbers of staff from the EU because of Brexit had taken a toll.

It showed, however, that patients were about as satisfied with their healthcare as citizens in other countries, with waiting times that compared favourably.

The study in the BMJ looked at healthcare in Britain, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the US. It said: “The NHS showed pockets of good performance but spending, patient safety and population health were below average to average at best.”

Britain spent the least on health, £3,000 per person, compared with an average of £4,400, and had the highest number of deaths that might have been prevented with prompt treatment.

It had the lowest number of nurses per capita and was the only country where the figure fell between 2010 and 2017, the most recent year in the study.

“Relative to other countries, the NHS has lower amounts of labour, which have been decreasing at a faster rate, particularly after 2015, when large decreases in the annual inflow of EU-trained healthcare professionals have been seen,” the report said.

Survival rates for breast and colon cancer were the lowest and second lowest for rectal and cervical cancer. The chances of dying a month after having a stroke or heart attack in the UK were well above the average. Average life expectancy, however, was only just below the average of 81.7 years, at 81.3 years.

The UK had the lowest percentage of doctors dissatisfied with the time they could spend with patients and the lowest percentage of doctors along with Canada and Netherlands who were dissatisfied with their income.

In Britain, 65 per cent of patients reported seeing the doctor or nurse the next day when they last needed care, in line with the average of 67 per cent.

Forty-four per cent of UK adults thought the healthcare system worked well, compared with an average of 45 per cent. The UK figure had declined by 19 percentage points since 2010.

It said that the UK appeared to have higher rates of informal care “with high proportions of the workforce out of work or in part-time employment because they are providing care”.

A separate report from the Health Foundation charity said that the NHS was relying on less qualified staff to plug gaps because of a nursing shortage.

There are almost 44,000 nursing vacancies across the NHS, equivalent to about 12 per cent of the nursing workforce. This could more than double in a decade, the report warned.

update 4th December:

Chris Smyth in the Times 3rd December 2019: Immigration crackdown spells disaster for NHS, says report

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Nurses, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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