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Deficit trusts face ‘intimidating conversations’ and orders to hold down staffing

NHS England has told many trusts and systems they are not allowed to increase their staffing establishment in the next 12 months, HSJ has learned.

Trust leaders said NHS England and the government were treating money as the “first priority” and one director, speaking anonymously, said: “The tone of the conversation [with NHSE about finance] has become intimidating and I worry that this will lead boards to take unsafe risks, and head into Mid Staffs territory.”

Board papers seen by HSJ, and several senior sources, confirmed many trusts had been told by NHS England during the planning process that they were not permitted to increased their total number of planned posts, known as staffing “establishment”, for 2023-24. 

A chief nurse at one large acute provider said the pressure on staff numbers “doesn’t triangulate” with messages on safer staffing from regulators, including NHSE, such as the drive to increase midwife numbers over maternity safety concerns. It also contrasts with plans to expand clinical staff numbers in the promised national long-term workforce plan, the chief nurse said.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 25 April 2023



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