The number of nurses is failing to keep pace with the number of patients requiring treatment.
Nursing staff have warned that staffing levels are now “dangerously inadequate” amid rising NHS waiting lists.
A new analysis from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) today exposes the “inadequacy” of the government’s political target to recruit 50,000 nurses to the workforce to tackle the crisis facing the NHS.
Official statistics reveal there has been just a 16 per cent increase in nursing staff, whilst patient waiting lists have grown 70 per cent since the target was set.
The official tally of nurse vacancies released by the NHS itself has fallen by little over 100 in the four years since the pledge was made – with 43,339 roles still unfilled in England’s registered nurse workforce compared to 43,452 at the time of the pledge.
With nearly half of all new nurses being recruited internationally, the union has also warned that large-scale international recruitment is “expensive, unsustainable, and unethical” given global nursing workforce shortages.
In real terms the figures mean for every nurse the government has recruited since 2019 in England, there are now an additional 68 waits for non-urgent NHS treatment in England.
Staffing levels are dangerously inadequate.
The RCN is now calling upon the government to come up with a domestic plan to increase the number of trainee nurses.
Royal College of Nursing Director for England, Patricia Marquis, said: “Not a single nurse will say that it feels like there are more staff now – they say the very opposite. When patient numbers and demand is so high, staffing levels become dangerously inadequate.
“It is unsafe for patients and professionals alike whenone nurse cares for 10, 15 or more patients at a time and beds are put in corridors or other inappropriate places.
Ms Marquid continued, “The government’s political target was not based on calculation of patient needs and the international reliance shows they reached for short-sighted and unethical means rather than sustained domestic growth in nursing.
“The Autumn Statement is just days away. The new Health Secretary must secure urgent investment in the nursing workforce now, to keep the staff we already have and recruit a new generation. This means abolishing tuition fees for nursing students and paying staff fairly.
She concludes, “Only then will there be enough nurses to give patients the care they need and deserve.”