Over 10,000 London nursing posts vacant

The shortage of nurses worsened last year, with 17 per cent of all London’s registered nursing jobs vacant, an increase from 14 per cent in 2014 and 11 per cent in 2013.

However, the Department of Health (DoH) has contended it does not recognise the figures and argues London has 1,800 more nurses that one year ago.

The RCN gathered the data through numerous Freedom of Information requests, submitted to all of London’s NHS trusts. It claimed the data suggested the city was facing a ‘critical shortage’ of registered nursing staff.

A spokesperson for the RCN warned the staff shortage put patients at risk and led to expensive solutions such as temporary agency staff and recruitment from overseas.

Bernell Bussue, the RCN's London regional director, said: "The problem is partly down to short-sighted workforce planning which saw training posts cut in the past, meaning there aren't enough home grown nurses coming through the system.

"Most importantly, the ongoing pay freeze imposed by the government means that nursing staff increasingly just can't afford to live and work in London."

However, a spokeswoman for NHS England (London) argued that the July figures did not reflect reductions in agency spend since a cap on charges for agency staff was introduced in November.

She said: “In London we are looking at new ways to recruit both new and returning nurses while retaining nurses already in post so that we are reaching our planned staffing levels.

"This includes a programme in which senior nurses in the capital are working together to create innovative career pathways and making London a more desirable place to work."

A DoH spokesperson said: "Official statistics show that Londoners have already benefitted from 3,400 additional nurses since May 2010 and this is down to continued government investment in the frontline.

"We have 50,000 nurses in training and our recent changes to student funding will mean up to 10,000 more training places across the country by 2020."

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