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Hospitals substitute nurses as staffing crisis worsens

The number of hospitals falling short of their planned nurse staffing by 10% or more has almost tripled in five years. An analysis of unpublished workforce data by HSJ reveals the gap between the number of nurses hospitals think they need, and what they are able to staff it with, has grown since 2014.

The number of hospital trusts reporting a shortfall of 10% or more on their day shifts increased from 20 in June 2014 to 55 in June 2019 – nearly triple. 

Experts said the data showed the NHS was “drifting into massive skill mix change” as hospitals overstaff with support workers, while having to run shortfalls of nurses, despite evidence this has a “detrimental impact on patient outcomes including survival”.

Alison Leary, Professor of Healthcare and Workforce Modelling at London’s Southbank University, told HSJ: “It’s concerning but understandable that trusts are filling that gap with unregistered support staff because we know from the evidence that skill dilution has a detrimental impact on patient outcomes including survival." Professor Leary said NHS trusts needed to do more on retaining nurses and recognising their value.

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Source: HSJ, 24 October 2019


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