During the Queen’s speech at the opening of Parliament yesterday the Government pledged to tackle the NHS backlog.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has blasted the Government’s “hollow” plan to tackle the NHS backlog amid one of the worst workforce shortages.
During the Queen’s speech at the opening of Parliament yesterday, the Prince of Wales set the UK government’s legislative and policy agenda for the new parliamentary term.
He said the government aims to clear the NHS backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as reform mental health rules and have a renewed focus on women’s health in England.
However, official figures suggest around 40,000 registered nursing vacancies across the NHS in England alone. A recent analysis indicates that a pre-election pledge to boost the number of nursing staff is having no “substantial impact”.
There has also been a sharp rise in people leaving the nursing profession. According to Nursing and Midwifery Council figures, between March and September 2021, 13,945 people left the register. This is an increase of 27% on the same period in the previous year.
These are just hollow words.
Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive, said: “Ministers say supporting the NHS to clear the COVID-19 backlog in England is one of their key priorities – but without the workforce to do it these are hollow words.
“Their levelling-up agenda is front and centre of their legislative plans, but the playing field in nursing is far from even.
“With tens of thousands of vacancies in health and care, nursing staff are facing a losing battle in trying to provide safe and effective care without the staff to do it.”
Pat added: “Without a credible workforce plan for England, and indeed every country of the UK, patients will continue to suffer. Despite government rhetoric today, the number of unfilled nurse jobs in the NHS is not coming down.”
The RCN also says plans for reforms of the Mental Health Act are a step in the right direction, but those also require fully-funded workforce plans.