DHSC insists it is still on track to deliver a pre-election pledge to deliver 50,000 more nurses.
The Government has rejected plans that would help address NHS staff burnout and rising staff shortages.
It comes only months after a Health and Social Care Committee report found that burnout amongst nurses and allied healthcare professionals had reached a critical level and “is an extraordinarily dangerous risk to the future functioning of both services”.
As part of the report, MPs, including the former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, called for plans to be drawn up to address the ongoing staffing crisis.
However, in a Government response to the report, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has rejected the calls for an annual report on workforce shortages and instead proposed the Health Secretary publish reports every five years.
DHSC says the requirement for a twice-a-decade report will be added to the Health and Social Care Bill and insists it is still on track to deliver a pre-election pledge to deliver 50,000 more nurses.
A cycle of crises.
The decision comes despite ongoing pledges during the pandemic to support nurses, doctors and other NHS workers.
Jeremy Hunt, chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, said the Government had missed an opportunity to address the “cycle of crises”.
He said: “It is disappointing the Government has again rejected our call for transparent and independent projections of the number of doctors and nurses we need to meet future demand.
“Unless we have future-proof workforce planning, it will not be possible to address the NHS backlog and the cycle of crises putting dangerous pressure on staff will continue.
“We hope the Government will be persuaded by the case for independent workforce planning as the health and care bill progresses through parliament. Without it, we see little hope that the workforce crisis will be alleviated.”
Urgent action is needed.
NHS Providers Chief Executive Chris Hopson echoed Mr Hunt’s concern; he told SkyNews he was “incredibly frustrated” that health secretary Sajid Javid had refused to support a long-term workforce plan for NHS staff.
With around 40,000 registered nurse vacancies across the NHS in England, Nurses United UK has said that “urgent action” is needed calling for a pay rise for NHS workers and safe staffing ratios to be implemented.
Anthony Johnson, lead organiser for the grassroots group, said, “So when we have a constant staffing crisis that this Government created, they only want to review it every five years?
“That’s because they know that the pandemic was the only reason they ever increased the number of nurses. And, in 5 years, they’ll be out of Government.
“Our patients and our colleagues can’t wait five years to sort out this mess. There is still hope for NHS staffing, but it requires urgent action, a restorative 15% pay rise, a living bursary and safe staffing ratios. That’s what’s needed.”