There are more than 100,000 unfilled jobs across the NHS in England.
Health experts have warned that an extra 900 hospitals bed are essentially useless without more staff.
It comes after the government announced the creation of 900 additional hospital beds ahead of this winter across 30 different NHS organisations in England. In real terms, it equates to the creation of a single new ward in each hospital.
It forms part of the two-year Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery plan, which was published in January.
Announcing the plans, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak explained, “These 900 new beds will mean more people can be treated quickly, speeding up flow through hospitals and reducing frustratingly long waits for treatment.”
With more than 100,000 unfilled jobs across the NHS in England, health leaders have been quick to criticise the plans.
The elephant in the room.
Royal College of Nursing General Secretary and Chief Executive, Pat Cullen, said: “The elephant in the room is who will staff these additional beds? Nursing staff are already spread too thinly over too many patients.
“Everyday nursing staff are under unsustainable pressure, with over 40,000 vacant nursing posts in England. It is leaving our patients receiving lower quality care, often in inappropriate settings, and our colleagues burnt out and heading towards the door.
“If the Prime Minister is serious about cutting waiting times, he should not ignore the nursing staff walking out of the profession. He will continue to fail to meet his pledge to cut NHS waiting times if nursing is not seen as an attractive, well-paid profession to join or stay in.”
Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it would utilise more private sector capacity in a bid to tackle waiting lists and ease pressure on the NHS.
The British Medical Association (BMA) also claims it is “disingenuous” for the government to claim they are preparing for winter.
Professor Philip Banfield, BMA council chair, said: “Funding for extra beds is absolutely necessary, the NHS badly needs them, but this is too little too late and misses the fundamental observation that we need staff to look after the patients in them.
“What has happened to the 5,000 beds promised by the Government or the 10,000 that the Royal College of Emergency Medicine have suggested are needed?
“Treating more patients without the corresponding additional doctors, nurses and colleagues will stretch existing staff even thinner in an already threadbare service and patients will continue to wait too long to be seen.”