NHS can’t fill 100,000 jobs: Extra £20billion-a-year funding won’t head off a healthcare crisis unless more staff are recruited, MPs warn
- Staff shortages will stop NHS from delivering its long-term plan, report states
- The situation will ‘rapidly reach crisis point’ if the NHS continues to lose staff
- Situation will also worsen if it ‘fails to attract sufficient workers from overseas’
Staff shortages of around 100,000 will stop the NHS from delivering its long-term plan, MPs have warned.
Officials have been accused of painting ‘an overly positive picture’ of the financial sustainability of the health service while playing down the challenges ahead.
The situation will ‘rapidly reach crisis point’ if the NHS continues to lose staff and fails to attract sufficient workers from overseas, according to a Public Accounts Committee report.
Staff shortages of around 100,000 will stop the NHS from delivering its long-term plan, MPs have warned. Stock image
There are currently around 100,000 vacancies across the NHS representing ‘a major obstacle to [its] financial viability’. The report warned that expecting retention rates to improve or for more staff to join from abroad was a ‘risky strategy’, with the UK’s exit from the EU potentially complicating matters further.
‘The long-term funding settlement for the NHS and the NHS long-term plan present an opportunity to bring back stability to the health system,’ the report said. ‘However, with about 100,000 current vacancies, the NHS will not deliver against the plan unless it addresses staffing shortages.’
The NHS long-term plan was published in January after the Government committed to an extra £20.5billion in funding per year by 2023-24.
The NHS almost balanced its budget in 2017-18, with NHS England, trusts and clinical commissioning groups reporting a combined deficit of £21million, the committee said.
However, the report warned that rosy picture hides warning signs that the NHS’s financial health is getting worse, with increasing loans to support struggling trusts, growing waiting lists and slipping waiting times.
A lack of clarity on adult social care funding was also highlighted as a concern.
Meg Hillier, the Labour chairman of the committee, said: ‘Voices from the front line came through loud and clear in our latest examination of NHS sustainability. As one hospital trust chief executive put it: “Staffing is the biggest challenge we face … it’s one of the biggest threats to financial sustainability in the NHS.”
‘The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS bodies need to heed these voices and act now.’ A report from the Health Foundation think-tank published in February found that NHS staff are quitting in record numbers due to burn-out.
Officials have been accused of painting ‘an overly positive picture’ of the financial sustainability of the health service while playing down the challenges ahead. Stock image
From June 2010 to June 2011, 3,689 employees cited a poor work-life balance as their reason for leaving the NHS in England. For the year leading up to June 2018, 10,257 members of staff gave the same reason for quitting – an increase of 178 per cent.
The number of nurses leaving due to NHS working hours tripled over that seven-year period. Current staff shortages of around 100,000 vacancies represent almost one in 11 jobs in the health service.
An NHS Improvement spokesman said: ‘The NHS has reduced the number of staff vacancies and the number of trusts in deficit over the past year.
‘We are building on these achievements with our people plan, which will set out how we will deliver a 21st century NHS for our rising and ageing population by growing the number of doctors and nurses, as well as by giving trusts in deficit extra money and support from this month so that every hospital will return to financial balance within the next five years.’