Nursing shortages mean ‘we cannot deliver the long-term plan’, MPs told

There are currently over 40,000 vacant registered nursing posts in England.

Ian Snug
30 April 2019
Dame Donna Kinnair

Legislation to address the shortage of registered nurses is essential.

Westminster has been told today that legislation to address the shortage of registered nurses and nursing staff is essential to ensure patient safety and to deliver the government’s Long-Term Plan for the NHS.


MPs were warned that without it, “we cannot deliver the long-term plan”. 

There are currently over 40,000 vacant registered nursing posts in England and universities have experienced a steady decline in applications for nursing courses since 2015.

The RCN believes the workforce crisis has come about because there is a lack of clarity about who is responsible for growing and developing the workforce to care for the number of patients there are.

It is calling for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to be explicitly accountable for safe staffing.


‘Evidence rather than political calculation’.

Giving evidence as part of the consultation being run by NHS England and NHS Improvement on legislative changes needed to deliver the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of RCN, told MPs; “Successive Secretaries of State have taken decisions which mean we cannot deliver the long-term plan.

“The lack of accountability on staffing has put us back years, so there needs to be an explicit accountability for the workforce with the Secretary of State.

“There is no delivery of the long term plan without investment in the workforce.  We cannot go on thinking we can have the same number of nurses and just move them around and feel we can deliver a safe, quality NHS. This is why we need a commitment for accountability.

“We are talking about accountability to Parliament for the workforce of our biggest treasure, the NHS.”


Dame Donna also warned that the health and social care system should operate on “evidence rather than political calculation”. 

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