A shortage of nurses and midwives could be worsening in the NHS, figures have revealed.
The number of jobs being advertised for the health workers increased by almost a fifth in three years, according to the most recent statistics.
In the six months between October 2017 and March 2018 69,409 nurse and midwife jobs were advertised – 19.7 per cent more than in the same period in 2016 and eight per cent more than last year.
The Royal College of Nursing has called the figures ‘very worrying’ and warned there aren’t enough nurses to provide safe care for people.
Job ads for health scientists and therapists and radiographers have also risen, while there is a lower demand for admin staff.
The statistics come as the Nursing and Midwifery Council today revealed the number of non-EU NHS nurses is surging after English language tests were made easier.
The Royal College of Nursing says the fact the NHS is trying to recruit more and more nurses suggests there are not enough, which it says is ‘very worry’
The number of nurse and midwife jobs in the NHS has grown by thousands in recent years, during which time the Government cut bursaries for nursing students and hundreds fewer European nurses applied to work in the health service after the Brexit vote.
Some 11,483 nurse and midwife jobs were advertised in March 2018, 37 per cent more than the 8,392 in February 2015, when the most recent data began.
Nurses and midwives make up 40 per cent of job vacancies
The health workers are the most in-demand staff – making up some 40 per cent of all March’s job adverts – but vacancies across the health service are rising steadily.
The total number of jobs advertised in March 2018 was 28,998, according to figures released today by NHS Digital.
This was lower than March last year, when 30,613 roles needed to be filled, but higher than both 2016 and 2015, when the figure was below 27,000.
The number of nurse and midwife jobs being advertised has risen from 8,392 in February 2015 to 11,483 in March 2018, according to new statistics from NHS Digital
Experts fear the numbers may be even higher in real life.
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: ‘It’s very worrying that the number of vacant posts for nurses and midwives has increased more than those for any other type of clinical staff, with almost 35,000 vacant posts for nurses and midwives advertised in the first three months of this year, an increase of 1,800 on the previous year.
‘There aren’t enough nurses to provide safe care’
‘We also know that not all vacant nurse jobs are even advertised in the current climate, so these figures will be an under-estimate.
‘They bear out what patients, their families and our own surveys repeatedly tell us – that there just aren’t enough nurses to provide safe care.
‘But with the number of applications to nursing degree courses having dropped by almost third in the two years since the Government removed funding for nursing students, the serious risk is that we will soon see fewer nurses on wards and in the community, not more.
‘The Government must use the recent NHS funding deal to bring on the next generation of nurses, and to invest in the current workforce to stop these losses.’
The Department of Health and Social Care says there are more than 105,000 bank and agency staff who fill vacancies and sick leave and maternity cover.
‘We want to attract the best for our NHS’
The Government department also announced an extra 5,170 nurse degree training places earlier this year, plus new routes into nursing.
A spokesperson said: ‘We want to make sure we continue to attract and retain the very best for our outstanding NHS.
‘We are listening to staff and have encouraged more flexible working, boosted training places and given over a million NHS employees a thoroughly-deserved pay rise.’
APPLICATIONS FOR NURSING DEGREES DOWN BY A THIRD IN TWO YEARS
Plans to increase numbers of trainee nurses amid an NHS staffing crisis have failed, nursing leaders claimed earlier this year.
The number of those applying to nursing degrees fell by a third in two years, from 43,730 in 2016 to 29,360 in February, a Royal College of Nursing report revealed.
The college blames a Government decision to scrap grants worth £20,000 for future nurses and midwives and replace them with loans.
The move was announced in 2015 and ministers claimed the money saved would pay for extra nurse training places.
Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN, said the Government had ‘squandered’ the chance to address the crisis, adding: ‘The Government knows that when there aren’t enough nurses, patients can pay the very highest price.’
She called on ministers to ‘redouble efforts’ to attract students with fair pay and other incentives.