There are currently around 40,000 registered nurse vacancies across the NHS in England alone.
The UK’s response to COVID-19 was one of the worst public health failures in the country’s history and led to an avoidably high death toll, a damning report from a cross-party group of MPs has found.
According to the report, a delay in the initial lockdown, ignoring scientific advice and critical failures in the Test and Trace service are to blame for the high number of deaths.
Pre-pandemic staff shortages in the NHS, lack of crucial resources such as PPE, and a failure to prioritise and support social care were also blamed.
There are currently around 40,000 registered nurse vacancies across the NHS in England alone – a figure that has remained static for several years despite numerous pledges by the Government.
At the time of publication, 160,824 people have had COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificates as a contributing factor in their death, with thousands of those being health and social care workers.
Continually let down by failures.
Responding to the report, Carol Popplestone, Chair of RCN Council said: “The long-term failure to invest in the nursing workforce meant health and care services were chronically under-resourced to deal with the pressures of the pandemic.
“The report highlights how staff stepped up to be redeployed to areas of critical care to protect those most in need and yet they were continually let down by failures at the highest levels. The massive nursing shortage meant student nurses being called to the frontline, disrupting their studies and readiness to qualify.
“Nursing staff across the whole health and care system were given false reassurances on PPE and those in their care were put at risk by failures in test and trace.
“Warnings were repeatedly ignored and the terrible impact on the most vulnerable is laid bare in this report. There can now be no delay to the start of a public inquiry into the failings. The first lesson must be ensuring proper accountability in government for workforce planning and supply is built into law.”