NHS spending £1.5bn a year on temporary nurses as staff leave in droves, study reveals (The Independent: 14 May 2018)

The NHS is spending almost £1.5bn a year on agency nurses while its own staff are leaving in droves, a new report suggests.

The vast outlay on temp workers would be enough to pay the wages of 66,000 full-time positions for a year, according to the study by The Open University.

It claims the health of patients could be put at risk because of the constant churn of more


Patients being turned away from sexual health clinics, RCN says (The Guardian: 14 May 2018)

Nurses have reported having to turn patients away from short-staffed sexual health clinics, leading to fears over a drop in infection testing.

Overstretched resources in the field mean that the public are being left unprotected, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which launches a report on Monday as sexual health experts warn that services are at “tipping point” due to budget cuts.

It found that the number of 18- to 24-year-olds being tested for chlamydia, the most common disease, has fallen by close to half a million in the five years since the government moved public health services into local authorities. Despite a 25% fall in tests, recent figures recorded a higher level of positive diagnoses, now at 128,000 cases a year.

The past five years coincided with what the RCN described as detrimental changes to commissioning of services, funding reductions and a “dangerous” recruitment more


'Three-quarters of public worried about nurse staffing' (BBC: 13 May 2018)

Three in four people do not think there are enough nurses to care safely for patients in the NHS, a survey suggests.

The poll of 1,600 UK adults - carried out by YouGov for the Royal College of Nursing - found 74% were concerned about staffing levels.

Latest figures for England show one in nine posts is vacant.

The RCN branded the situation dangerous, but ministers said steps were being taken to recruit more more


NHS has lost 1,000 GPs since Jeremy Hunt set workforce target (Pulse: 15 May 2018)

The GP workforce in England is continuing to decline, as official statistics reveal that 316 full-time equivalent GPs have left the profession in the last three months.

The figures released by NHS Digital today also reveal that the number of FTE GPs in the workforce has decreased more than 1,000 since September 2015 - when health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced he would increase the number of FTE GPs in England by 5,000.

NHS England is recruiting from overseas in a bid to boost GP numbers, but Pulse revealed last month that they had only managed to recruit 85 by April - despite originally touting the figure of more


Survey reveals working for the NHS is making staff sick with stress (Devon Live:14 April 2018)

NHS staff in Devon don't look forward to going to work and feel there are not enough staff for time to do their job properly.

That is according to the latest NHS Staff Survey results, which show one in nine members of staff at both Torbay and South Devon and Plymouth Hospitals (11.4%) said they rarely or never look forward to going to work, while it was one in 11 (9.4%) at Northern Devon.

Bodies representing NHS staff have said the latest survey should act as a warning to the government that staff are working under “impossible conditions” and that their goodwill and dedication could not be “a replacement for adequate funding and proper workforce planning”.

When asked if there was enough staff at the organisation for them to do their job properly, 55% at Plymouth Hospitals disagreed, as did 44.9% at Torbay and South Devon, and 41.2% at Northern Devon.

More than a third of staff at some trusts said they had felt unwell due to work-related stress in 2017, including 37.0% at Plymouth Hospitals, 36.3% at Torbay and South Devon, and 35.7% at Northern Devon.


NHS Staff Survey shows worsening pay and conditions are taking their toll on staff (Nursing Notes: 6 March 2018)

Unisons say that wage freezes and woeful pay rises below the rate of inflation have now taken their toll on NHS staff.

The NHS Staff Survey is the largest workforce survey in the world and has been conducted every year since 2003 and it asks NHS staff about their experiences of working for the NHS.Staff, overall, said they were unhappy with the quality of work and care they are able to deliver – primarily due to underfunding and poor staffing more


Hospital doctors will find new NHS order on checkups ‘impossible’ (The Guardian: 24 March 2018)

Hospital bosses have ridiculed a new edict from the NHS which insists every inpatient should be medically assessed each morning and evening by a senior doctor.

They claim the order is “impossible” to fulfil because so many hospitals are struggling to fill medical rotas because of widespread shortages of doctors, which are as high as 25% in some places.

The instruction came earlier this month in a letter to the chief executives and medical directors of hospitals in England from the regulators NHS England and NHS Improvement. It made clear that in a bid to cut the number of patients using beds unnecessarily, hospitals must “ensure every patient has a review at the start and end of the day by a senior clinician to facilitate discharge” more


Over 160,000 stressed out nurses forced to leave profession over just five years due to long hours and poor pay (The Mirror: 17 April 2018) 

Stressed nurses are leaving the NHS in increasing numbers after 160,000 quit in five years. Long hours and poor pay have been blamed for the numbers leaving increasing by a fifth.

An unprecedented NHS staffing crisis has left at least 40,000 unfilled nursing posts in England alone and wards having to close due to dangerous understaffing. Data released by Government shows 33,530 quit the profession in the year up to September 2017.

This is a 17% increase on the 28,547 who quit in 2012/13 after year-on-year increases for the last four years. In total 159,134 nurses have quit the NHS in the last five years.

The data was released in response to a Parliamentary question by the Labour more


Rise in attacks on NHS workers blamed on lack of staff and delays (The Guardian: 17 April 2018)

Growing numbers of NHS personnel in England have been the victim of a violent attack at work, with understaffing and delays in patients accessing services being blamed for the rise.

Figures supplied by hospital trusts have shown that they recorded 56,435 physical assaults on staff in 2016-17, up 9.7% on the 51,447 recorded the year before.

The data, from 181 of the NHS’s 244 hospital trusts, was obtained by the HealthService Journal on behalf of the union Unison under the Freedom of Information Act.

Nurses, paramedics and mental health staff are among those most likely to be more


Two-thirds of NHS healthcare assistants doing nurses' duties, union finds (The Guardian: 18 April 2018)

Almost two-thirds of healthcare assistants (HCAs) are performing roles usually undertaken by nurses, such as giving patients drugs and dressing their wounds, in the latest illustration of the NHS’s staffing crisis.

The apparently growing trend of assistants acting as “nurse substitutes” has sparked concern that patients may receive inferior or potentially unsafe care because they do not have the same skills.

Of the 376,000 assistants in the NHS in England, 74% are taking on extra tasks, according to findings by the union Unison.

In a survey of almost 2,000 mainly hospital-based HCAs across the UK, 63% said they were providing patient care with worryingly little help from doctors and nurses, and 39% said they were not confident the patients they look after were receiving safe more


Frontline nursing an 'easy target for cuts' as staff numbers continue to drop (National Health Executive: 1 March 2018)

The number of nurses and health visitors across the NHS in England has dropped by over 400 people. Sector leaders feel this decline reflects how frontline nursing has become an "easy target for cuts".

At a time when the government is actively trying to boost workforce numbers to tackle high rates of vacancies across the country, the lates figures from NHS Digital show that the opposite has been happening. Since 2016, the nursing and health visitor workforce has shrunk to 284,000 FTE, a drop of 435 people.

There was also a decrease of 0.2% across the nursing workforce within GP practices, with 27 less staff working in the NHS now than in 2016

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, argued the latest statistics are a worrying sign that the number of nurses continues to slide - and they have also come just a day after a major survey revealed public satisfaction with the NHS is dwindling due to staffing more


Operations cancelled by hospitals due to staff shortages as snow hits UK (Metro: 28 February 2018)

Hospital trusts have reported that operations and appointments across the UK have been cancelled because there are not enough staff available.

At Pilgrim Hospital in Lincolnshire, all planned and non-urgent children's operations have been cancelled. United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust said that the cancellations are due to a national shortage of staff specialising in children and not enough inpatient more


One in 11 posts unfilled in the NHS in England (The Guardian: 21 February 2018)

One in 11 posts in NHS England are currently unfilled, equivalent to almost 100,000 vacancies, official figures show.

The number of vacancies was published for the first time in NHS Improvement’s quarterly performance report for the three months ending 31 December. Released on Wednesday, the report warns that staff shortages are affecting performance.

The high number of unfilled posts has coincided with the NHS coming under immense pressure, with 250,000 more people visiting A&E than in the equivalent three-month period in 2016.

NHS providers reported a year-to-date deficit of £1.3bn, moving NHS Improvement to revise its estimate of the year-end deficit to £931m, 88% worse than more


Delays in handover of 150,000 patients to A&E due to winter pressures (National Health Executive: 19 February 2018)

According to the latest figures from NHS England, almost 150,000 ambulance patients have had to wait over half an hour before being admitted to A&E this winter.

Reports show that between 20 November 2017 and 11 February 2018 over 114,000 patients waited between 30 and 60 minutes before being handed over to NHS staff. Meanwhile over 35,000 people waited over an hour before they were transferred.

Bed occupancy has stayed consistently over 94% this winter, which is well above the recommended safe levels of more


Huge fall in NHS community nurses hits the North-East (Gazette Live: 18 February 2018)

Exclusive figures have revealed that the number of NHS community health nurses has dropped by 600 since the Conservatives came into power.

In 2010 there were 3,011 full-time equivalent community nursing roles but only 2,393 in 2017. This shows a fall of more than 20%, adding even more pressure on the NHS.

In response to the figures, the Government admitted that it is an “urgent” requirement to boost these numbers.

GP committee chair for the British Medical Association, Dr Richard Vautrey, said community nurses provide valuable healthcare services working with practices, supporting GPs and in people’s homes.

He added: “Any reduction in their numbers is a big concern, not only for its potential knock-on effect for practices already struggling with unmanageable workloads, but particularly for those patients who depend on their support to help manage their conditions at home and avoid visiting more


Secretaries asked to help nurses at Grimsby hospital (Grimsby Telegraph: 16 February 2018)

Secretaries and admin staff were drafted in to help on ward duties at Grimsby hospital after being hit with a staffing crisis.

After being hit by a combination of staff sickness and ward closures, the managers at Diana, Princess of Wales hospital had to put out an appeal for help.

As a result, clerical and admin staff volunteered to take on duties that would allow remaining nurses to focus on patients.

The hospital has insisted the staff were there to “help ease the pressure on our clinical staff”. The staff said that their tasks included making cups of tea, changing beds, taking food orders and collecting drugs from the more


Jeremy Hunt: NHS winter crisis is 'worst ever' (ITV News: 8 February 2018)

The Health and Social Care Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said that the NHS is experiencing "probably the worst" winter crisis ever "in terms of pressures on the system".

Hunt added that the current situation in the service is "not sustainable" and that it would "not be fair" if doctors and nurses faced similar pressures to 2017/2018 every year.

His comments came after figures showed that A&E departments suffered their second-worst month on record in January.

He said that "significantly more" money would need to be spent on the NHS over the next decade to ensure the country could cope with increased demand.

"In ten years time we'll have a million more over-75s in this country and we want to be able to promise the British people that every single older person is going to be treated with the highest standard of dignity and respect." more


Hundreds of NHS staff forcibly moved to a private company, says UNISON (Nursing Notes: 7 February 2018)

Moving 350 NHS staff into a Trust-owned private company has put Yeovil hospital in breach of licence, public service union UNISON has set out.

In a letter to NHS regulators, UNISON argues the Trust’s decisions must be investigated.

Writing to NHS Improvement, UNISON set out Yeovil hospital’s failure to comply with the licencing requirement to have due regard for the NHS Constitution. The Constitution, which establishes what NHS patients and staff can expect from the service, states that NHS Trusts must “engage staff in decisions that affect them and the services they provide” more


Number of GPs drops by 1,193 (BBC News: 3 February 2018)        

According to NHS Digital, there were 33,302 GPs in England by October 2017 and 34,495 the year before. The numbers show a drop by 1,193 compared to a drop of 97 the year before.

Despite the government committing to provide an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020, GPs are leaving the profession at an increasing rate due to feeling "undervalued".

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA GPs committee, said: "This is a crisis which we've been pointing out for a number of years." He said the BMA is often contacted by GPs from across the country who worry about their workload pressures.

Dr Charlotte Ferriday quit her GP partnership in Devon in 2015 due to feeling burnt out by her job. She said: "I woke up one Monday morning and I couldn't get out of bed, for six weeks it was difficult to leave the house and it was catastrophic" more


Almost 3,000 GPs retired before the age of 60 over the past five years (Pulse: 1 February 2018)

Almost 3,000 GPs have claimed their pension before the age of 60 since April 2013, Pulse can reveal.

According to statistics obtained from NHS Business Services Authority and analysed by Pulse, the average age of those drawing their pensions for the first time has dropped, from 60.4 years in 2011/12 to 58.5 years in 2016/17.

These new figures strike a further blow to the Government’s target of increasing the GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020 – which is already in grave doubt after official figures last year revealed a net loss of 1,200 GPs between September 2016 and September more


Nursing vacancies reach new high of almost 35,000 (iNews: 23 January 2018)

Official figures show that the number of nursing vacancies has increased by 2,600 on the previous quarter, hitting a new record of 34,360.

The number of vacancies reveals the issue of a staffing crisis, as RCN general secretary Janet Davies states: “the next generation of British nurses has been deterred by the current whirlwind tearing through the NHS – record pressure, lack of funding and poor pay for staff”.

New statistics are yet to come, as the winter pressure have the potential to push the number of vacancies higher. Unison’s head of health, Sarah Gorton, said: “These shocking vacancy rates show that health workers are being pushed to their limits.”

The government planned to boost numbers of home-grown NHS staff, as Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a 25 percent increase in the number of nurse training places. As of December 2017, figures showed a decrease of 0.9 percent in the number of students accepted on to nursing in higher more


33,000 nurses leave the NHS each year (BBC News: 17 January 2018)                 

Figures show that one in 10 nurses now leave the NHS in England each year.

Last year more than 33,000 walked away, adding pressure on hospitals with staff shortages.

According to NHS Digital, these figures represent a rise of 20% since 2012-13, meaning there are now more people who leave than join.

Despite NHS bosses saying the problem was being tackled, nurse leaders have said it was a "dangerous and downward spiral". Royal College of Nursing head Janet Davies said: "The next generation of British nurses aren't coming through just as the most experienced nurses are becoming demoralised and leaving." more


Cancer patients could be harmed by NHS staff shortages (National Health Executive: 11 January 2018)

A leaked memo for Churchill Hospital in Oxford suggests that patients could face delays in chemotherapy due to cancer workforce shortages.

Chief Executive of Cancer Research, Harpal Kumar, says that staff shortages have been an ongoing problem over the past three years and the government are yet to tackle the issue.

“It’s totally unacceptable that these shortages could lead to delays in patients getting cancer treatment” He said.

The report suggests a concern for future cancer patients, as Kumar estimates an extra 150,000 people to be diagnosed every year by 2035. He says: “We need to see concrete action on the recent plan by Health Education England to tackle NHS staff shortages, the issue will not go away without decisive action." more


5th of EU doctors plan to leave the UK and the NHS ‘will not be able to cope’. (National Health Executive: 14 November 2017)                                        

Almost a fifth of EU doctors have made plans to leave the UK following the Brexit referendum, a survey by the BMA has found.

Currently EU workers make up around 7.7% of UK doctors, and many more work in public health and academic medicine.

But almost half of those surveyed said that they were considering leaving the UK following the referendum, and 29% said that they were unsure about whether their future remained in the UK.

When asked the reason that they were considering leaving the UK, the top three reasons cited were Brexit, negative attitudes towards EU workers and uncertainty over future immigration rules.

BMA treasurer Dr. Andrew Dearden called this revelation “a real concern,” and argued that the NHS “would not be able to cope” without its EU more


Understaffed nursing workforce spikes public concern.  (National Health Executive: 25 October 2017)

The majority of the public believe that NHS nurses are underpaid and that there are not enough staff, according to a new YouGov poll.

The news comes as members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) hold a demonstration outside parliament to protest the 1% public sector pay cap.

Although Jeremy Hunt has previously confirmed the policy will come to an end next year, nurses are concerned about the lack of detail and clear dates for the implementation of the plans.

The union has called on government to lift the cap in the Autumn Budget, claiming it causes serious understaffing problems and stops organisations from retaining staff.

The survey, undertaken by YouGov on behalf of the RCN, found that seven in 10 people believe there are not enough nurses employed by the NHS, while 68% are concerned that nurses are underpaid...see more


NHS maternity wards in England forced to close 382 times last year (The Guardian: 8 August 2017)

Maternity wards in England were forced to close their doors 382 times in 2016, according to new figures that have triggered claims of women being “pushed from pillar to post in the throes of labour”.

Campaigners warned that expectant mothers could be left in fear of giving birth at the roadside after a wide-reaching freedom of information request found a 70% increase in the number of maternity ward closures over two years.

Research by the Labour party found that 42 hospital trusts had been forced to shut their doors at some point over the last year – 44% of those who responded – with many blaming staff shortages and bed and cot capacity.

Fourteen of them admitted they had shut down more than 10 times, with some taking more than 24 hours to reopen.

In total, there were 382 occasions when units had to close in 2016. This figure is slightly higher than the 375 occasions from the year before, and an almost 70% increase on the 225 in 2014.

The findings triggered an immediate response from campaign groups, who pointed to the government’s own maternity policy, which says there should be enough midwives to prevent this happening.... read more


Royal College of GPs warn profession could reach 'breaking point' (The Guardian: 31 July 2017)

A government pledge to increase GP numbers by 5,000 within three years is falling short amid fears the profession “could reach breaking point”, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has warned.

The RCGP’s annual report on plans to improve GP services in England raises concern that many doctors are yet to observe significant changes in GP numbers under the recruitment drive, with GP numbers having fallen since September 2016.

A survey of GPs for the report found that 39% think they are unlikely to be working in the profession in England in five years’ time.

The professional body for family doctors in the UK said the findings sparked fears the profession “could reach breaking point” unless progress on the shake-up was accelerated.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, said: “It takes at least three years in speciality training for new doctors to enter the workforce as independent consultant GPs, so while it’s fantastic that more foundation doctors are choosing general practice this year, if more people are leaving the profession than entering it, we’re fighting a losing battle.

“Above all else we need to see efforts stepped up to keep hard-working, experienced GPs in the profession, and the best way to do this is to tackle workload pressures and improve the conditions under which all GPs and our teams are working.... read more


Labour demands inquiry into privatisation of NHS-owned recruiter (The Guardian: 27 July 2017)

Labour is demanding an inquiry into the privatisation of a government-owned NHS recruitment firm that saves hospitals £70m a year.

NHS Professionals helps the health service in England tackle its staffing crisis by arranging for doctors and nurses on its books to cover potentially harmful gaps in rotas.

Labour has asked the National Audit Office to look into why Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, is selling a profitable and effective company his Department of Health owns. The firm should be kept in public hands and allowed to continue playing a key role in alleviating widespread NHS understaffing, the party says.

Justin Madders, the shadow health minister, has written to Sir Amyas Morse, the comptroller and auditor general who heads up Whitehall’s spending watchdog, asking him to intervene before a sale is finalised, possibly as soon as next month.

“On the government’s own estimates NHSP saves the taxpayer around £70m a year by organising last-minute or replacement staffing for NHS trusts in England, and ensuring hospitals don’t have to rely on expensive private agencies”, Madders writes.

He wants the NAO to “examine the business case that has been produced [by the DH] to ascertain a better understanding of what additionality the private sector can bring to what on the face of it is already a successful organisation.”

NHSP supplies staff cheaper than those obtained through private agencies which Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, has castigated for charging “rip-off” rates.... read more


Soaring NHS vacancies prompt warnings of 'desperate' understaffing (The Guardian: 25 July 2017)

The number of vacancies in the NHS has soared by 15.8% over the last year, prompting warnings that the service is facing “desperate” problems of understaffing.

Figures for England released on Tuesday by NHS Digital show that the number of full-time equivalent posts available rose from 26,424 in March 2016 to 30,613 in March 2017 – the highest number on record.

A total of 86,035 such positions were advertised in the first quarter of this year, underlining the large number of health professionals and other staff that NHS trusts are seeking to fill.

However, NHS staff groups said the figures were a serious underestimate of the true number of vacancies, while NHS Digital itself admitted that they were undercounting, especially for nurses. The data also did not cover staff employed by GP surgeries, such as practice more


NHS England 'urgently needs 2,200 more A&E consultants' (19 July 2017)

Hospitals are being urged to urgently more than double the number of consultants on duty in A&E units in order to ensure that patients receive safe care. The NHS in England must recruit 2,200 extra A&E consultants in the next five years, more than the 1,632 who already work there, according to the body representing emergency medicine doctors.

The increase is needed to help the NHS avoid the sort of winter crisis that occurred last winter and to stop A&E doctors quitting due to burnout, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) claims. Dr Taj Hassan, the college’s president, said the costs of such a dramatic rise could be covered by redirecting the £400m a year hospitals currently have to spend on locum and agency A&E doctors as a result of understaffing.

“It is vital that we get our staffing right. Each emergency medicine consultant in England is responsible for around 10,000 patients a year. Our staff are working to the very limits of their abilities to provide safe, compassionate care. This is leading to burnout and doctors leaving the profession, creating a vicious circle,” said Hassan, a consultant in Leeds... read more


NHS staff shortages to blame for big rise in cancelled operations on children and young people, Labour warns (The Independent: 17th July 2017)

Operations on children and young people are being cancelled in huge numbers as NHS staff shortages bite, Labour reveals today.

More than 12,000 procedures – including for broken bones and treatments under anaesthetic – were scrapped last year, a rise of 35 per cent in just three years, the party said.

A lack of available anaesthetists, surgeons, consultants or theatre staff, as well as bed shortages and a lack of theatre time, were key reasons given by health bodies for the cancellations.

Labour’s research had uncovered 12,349 cancellations of surgical procedures planned for children and young people in 2016-17, across 76 health trusts, Mr Ashworth said.

This was 35 per cent higher than in 2013-14, when 9,128 cancellations were recorded, he said.

The total number of cancelled children’s operations since 2013-14 was 46,211 – with by far the highest number in London at 12,904.... read more


NHS faces staff crisis as student nurse applications plummet after Tories scrapped their grants (The Mirror: 13th July 2017)

Nursing leaders today warn the NHS faces a staffing crisis after figures showed a sharp fall in applications for training places.

The number applying to be student nurses has dropped from 65,620 to 53,010 - a fall of 12,610 on last year.

The fall comes after the Government axed student bursaries for trainee nurses and midwives.

From this September they have to take out loans to cover living costs and £9,000 a year fees.

The Royal College of Nursing said the figures case doubt on the ability to train enough nurses to fill the 40,000 vacant nurse posts in England.

The figure by the university applications service UCAS showed applications in England for student nursing places were down 23% in England.

There was also a 28% fall in the number of people aged 25 and over applying and a 27% fall in number of male applicants.... read more


Earlier articles can be found here 

Key Facts

Since the Coalition came to power in 2010 the NHS has lost as many as 6000 nursing posts.

Paramedics stress-related sick days increase by 28% between 2012 and 2014

Hospital staff absences for mental health reasons double

Key Trends:

Between May 2010 and July 2012: the total NHS workforce decreased by 2%.

Within this change:

The number of doctors rose by 7.5%, qualified midwives by 5%, and qualified scientific, therapeutic and technical staff by 2%.

The number of qualified nurses decreased by 2%.

Largest decrease in NHS infrastructure support at 9%

A decrease in support to doctors and nursing staff by 2.5%.



Health and Social Care Information Centre Workforce Statistics
"The latest statistics show that the cuts to NHS staff show no sign of slowing down" Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing

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