Mounting NHS vacancies becoming ‘national emergency’

Official figures show a shortage of nearly 42,000 nurses and 11,500 doctors.

Ian Snug
11 September 2018
Working nurses in the CCU

The shortage of NHS staff in England risks becoming a ‘national emergency’.

The shortage of NHS staff in England has worsened again with official statistics showing that one in eleven posts is vacant – with the situation worse among the nursing workforce.


Experts say the situation is at risk of becoming a “national emergency” given the rising demands on the NHS.

The official figures, from NHS Improvement, show a shortage of nearly 42,000 nurses and 11,500 doctors.

Chronic spending on agency and locum staff is causing extreme financial strain on the NHS trust.

The news comes after NHS England launched its £8 million TV recruitment campaign.


‘National emergency’.

Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund said: “After a punishing summer of heatwaves and ever-increasing demands on services, today’s report shows that the NHS is heading for another tough winter.

“Widespread and growing nursing shortages now risk becoming a national emergency and are symptomatic of a long-term failure in workforce planning, which has been exacerbated by the impact of Brexit and short-sighted immigration policies.”

Unsustainable workforce shortages.

Tom Sandford, Director of the Royal College of Nursing in England, said; “This report paints a bleak picture of rising demand and unsustainable workforce shortages, and betrays a huge over-reliance on bank and agency staff in England. The nursing vacancy figures are stark – vacancy rates are up 17 per cent (5,928) to 41,722 since the previous quarter, and 9 per cent (3,394) from the same point last year.

“The Government must immediately investigate this sudden spike in vacancies. It highlights yet again the need for a comprehensive workforce plan that responds to population need and ensures we have the right number of nurses to provide safe and effective patient care in England.”


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments