NHS staffing crisis deepens with 110,000 posts unfilled

The latest NHS Digital workforce vacancy data shows that overall staff vacancies in England topped 110,000 for the first time in December 2021, with over 20,000 more vacancies than the year before.

According to the figures, the shortages include 39,652 nurses and 8,158 doctors, prompting warnings that the shortage of frontline personnel would lead to longer delays, hamper efforts to tackle the treatment backlog and undermine quality of care.

One in 10 nursing posts are lying empty, as well as one in 17 doctors’ posts. The 39,652 nursing vacancies represent 10.3 per cent of the nursing workforce. The total figure of 110,192 represents 8.3 per cent of the total workforce – roughly one in 12 of all posts.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “Despite everything the NHS is doing to recruit and retain its workforce, there is no escaping the fact that services are facing chronic workforce shortages, which are getting worse. These pressures are felt right across the NHS with the biggest gaps seen in nursing, particularly in acute and mental health posts.

“For the NHS to fully recover from the pandemic, tackle its waiting lists and support its remaining staff, it needs the government to provide adequate funding for a long-term and sustainable plan for workforce. To do that effectively, decision makers must have greater transparency and understanding about future workforce needs, which is why NHS leaders are right behind the proposed amendment that would require the secretary of state for health and social care to publish regular and independent assessments of the numbers of staff the NHS needs, both now and in the years to come.”