Hancock fails to acknowledge NHS staff shortages

Hancock claims that there are “12,000 more nurses on our wards” and “14,000 more doctors”.

Ian Snug
3 October 2018
Matt Hancock

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care failed to acknowledge the shortage during a speech at the Conservative Party Conference.

During a speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham yesterday, Matt Hancock the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care failed to acknowledge the recruitment and retention crisis that has swept across the NHS.


During his speech, Mr. Hancock focused on bringing new technology across the health and care system” and theorising that the NHS is still the biggest buyer of fax machines in the country” – but fails to mention an ever-increasing deficit of staff.

More leaving than joining.

Hancock claims that there are 12,000 more nurses on our wards” and “14,000 more doctors”. However, figures from the Royal College of Nursing show 40,000 unfilled registered nurse vacancies and with more nurses leaving the profession than joining this is only set to increase.

The Royal College of Nursing has criticised Mr. Hancock pointing out that while investing in technology by increasing efficiency, it in no way compensates for having enough staff on the shop floor.

Tech doesn’t compensate for fewer nurses.

Dame Donna Kinnair, acting Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said:  “If this speech was intended to show the Government’s plan for the NHS, it has scarce little to say about the scores of unfilled jobs in every health care profession.


“After previously saying that the NHS workforce was his top priority, it was conspicuous by its absence from his speech today. There are 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone and that number is growing.

“The right number of staff with the right skills are the key to effective patient care and without enough nurses, so much of what was promised today looks simply undeliverable. Retaining local hospitals will do little to help communities if there is no one left to staff them. Up and down the country we hear examples of trusts struggling to recruit enough nurses to provide safe patient care.

“Technology may help increase efficiency, but it in no way compensates for having enough nurses on shift to keep patients safe. And preventative services, vital to keep people healthy for longer, require nurses with the right skills to make them work. Yet we see patients turned away from understaffed sexual health clinics as STI rates soar.

“The answer to these problems is a comprehensive workforce plan focused on recruitment and retention, that links population need to staff numbers. This must be underpinned by legislation that holds decision makers to account for safe staffing levels. Nursing can offer great career pathways, but it needs investment to make it attractive.”


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