Ministers are being warned of a mounting workforce crisis in England’s hospitals as they struggle to recruit staff for tens of thousands of nursing vacancies, with one in five nursing posts on some wards now unfilled.
Hospital leaders say the nursing shortfall has been worsened by a collapse in the numbers of recruits from Europe, including Spain and Italy.
The most recent NHS figures reveal there are about 39,000 vacancies for registered nurses in England, with one in 10 nursing posts unfilled on acute wards in London and one in five nursing posts empty on mental health wards in the south-east.
Thousands of nursing shifts each week cannot be filled because of staff shortages, according to hospital safe staffing reports seen by the Observer.
Patricia Marquis, England director for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: “There just aren’t enough staff to deliver the care that is needed, and we now have a nursing workforce crisis. We should never have got into a position where we were so dependent on international nurses. We are on a knife-edge.”
Source: The Guardian, 9 October 2021