The NHS recruitment crisis has become so bad that some parts of the country are only hiring one nurse for every 400 jobs advertised.
Official figures have laid bare the true extent of nursing shortages across the country with just one in seven advertised jobs getting filled.
There were 34,260 vacant nursing and midwifery roles advertised across England at the end of September – a record high.
Nursing leaders have claimed the Government ‘can no longer deny the staffing crisis’ on the back of the NHS Digital data.
It comes after a scathing analysis last week revealed a greater number of nurses and midwives are now leaving the health service than joining.
More than 33,000 walked away from nursing last year in England – about 10 per cent of the entire workforce. Around half were under the age of 40.
Official figures have laid bare the true extent of nursing shortages across the country with just one in seven advertised jobs being filled
The new data, released today, shows the Thames Valley area struggled the most to fill the vacant nursing and midwifery roles.
Just five nurses were hired for the 1,957 (one in 400) advertised posts in the region, which covers the Prime Minister’s constituency.
North West London bosses also had difficulties recruiting nurses, with 42 people hired from the 2,545 posts advertised (one in 50).
The greatest number of posts were filled by health bosses in the West Midlands, with 1,196 staff hired for 2,817 roles advertised (one in 2.5).
Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, blasted the statistics.
She said: ‘These figures pull back the curtain to reveal an NHS desperately short of nurses. The Government can no longer deny the staffing crisis.
‘The next generation of British nurses has been deterred by the current whirlwind tearing through the NHS – record pressure, lack of funding and poor pay for staff.
‘It has never been busier but is shedding experienced nurses quicker than it can find new ones.’
Ms Davies added that cuts to training places are ‘exacerbating the problem’.
She has called for a pay rise above inflation to stop patients from ‘paying the highest price’ – after nurses were given an open-ended promise of one in November.
It comes after it was announced in November the NHS is hiring up to 5,500 ‘rolling’ nurses from India and the Philippines.
They will work here for up to three years gaining specialist experience and skills on understaffed wards before returning back home.
But nursing leaders labelled the scheme a ‘sticking plaster’ which would do little to solve the NHS’ recruitment crisis.
Hospitals have already been hiring foreign nurses en masse particularly from Spain, Portugal and the Philippines in recent years.
But these recruitment drives have had limited success with many nurses going back to their own country after a few months.
The new figures also come after a Daily Mail analysis revealed the number of EU nurses joining the NHS has halved since the introduction of tough language tests.
Just 2,791 European nurses started work in England during 2016/17 – a sharp fall from the 5,977 recorded in 2014/15.
The fall coincided with the introduction of a new English assessment in January 2016, which was so difficult that even Australian nurses failed.
The test was replaced by an easier exam in November, but that hasn’t yet had an effect on nursing numbers. They have since been relaxed.