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An ITV News investigation has revealed the scale of vacancies in NHS hospitals spanning England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
More than 1,000 vacancies were reported by some hospitals with the biggest gaps at every trust existing in nursing.
The current workforce crisis comes as some hospitals admit crucial roles have remained unfilled for years, despite repeated advertising, and years of pay caps take their toll.
ITV News asked every acute trust to disclose how many staff posts were vacant and 92 responded.
Although agency staff can plug some of the gaps, the crisis means that it is growing harder for hospitals to meet demand and ensure patients are cared for. Earlier this year NHS trusts predicted a ‘breakdown’ in workplace planning with fewer trained staff and a rising number choosing to leave the profession.
While Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told ITV News the government cannot ‘magic up’ doctors and nurses, he says the number of staff in wards remains an ‘absolute priority’. He said big reforms’ had been made to nursing training, but it will take time for new recruits to take up roles.