Growing the NHS workforce is a ‘critical priority’, say health leaders

Demand for services has continued to rise with the NHS treating more people than ever before.

Kizzy Bass
27 November 2019
NHS

Key targets for hospital and A&E care have hit their worst levels since the standards were introduced.

Health leaders across England have stated that addressing workforce issues, reforming social care and addressing capital investment are the most critical areas the new incoming government need to address.

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Over three-quarters of health leaders (76%) surveyed by the NHS Confederation said that supporting and growing the NHS workforce should be a “critical priority”, ranking it highest at a time that there are more than 100,000 vacancies among clinical and nursing staff.

With over 43,000 nursing vacancies already leaving a staffing shortage that is critical to caring for patients, this survey reinforced the need for the government to act and invest in the NHS.

The survey was carried out in light of the recent performance statistics which showed the demand for services has continued to rise with the NHS treating more people than ever before.

Key targets for hospital and A&E care have hit their worst levels since the standards were introduced in 2004.

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Of 131 senior leaders, including chief executives, chairs and directors responding to the survey, nearly 3 in 5 (58%) believe this winter will be the worst on record to waiting times and performance across the NHS.

We need to make the NHS fit for the future.

Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The NHS is heading into this winter with significant staffing and performance challenges.

“It is therefore little wonder that health leaders are deeply concerned about its ability to cope with demand, despite frontline staff treating more patients than ever.

“The views from our members should send a clear message to whoever forms the new Government on the scale of the challenge facing the NHS and how to make the service fit for the future.

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“Workforce gaps, the growing social care crisis and historic underinvestment are the biggest threats to improving care for patients and transforming services, and each of these issues needs attention, as do the pension rules which are discouraging some doctors from taking on extra work and encouraging others to take early retirement.

“There is no quick fix for all the challenges facing the NHS in England but there is a direction of travel laid out already in the Long Term Plan, and it is at least encouraging that no political leaders are proposing further reorganisation.”

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