NHS vacancies in London trusts surpasses 30,000 with capital worst in England

·4-min read
There were 132,139 full-time equivalent vacancies across NHS England at the end of June (PA) (PA Wire)
There were 132,139 full-time equivalent vacancies across NHS England at the end of June (PA) (PA Wire)

NHS staff vacancies across London trusts have surpassed 30,000, the latest figures show.

That number equates to one in eight (12.5 per cent) full-time posts which were vacant at the end of June, in March the overall figure stood at 26,002 according to figures from NHS Digital.

Within the overall figures, the vacancy rate for mental health services was the highest in the capital at 16. per cent or 7,745 position left unfilled.

London also has the highest number of vacancies for a single sector with more than 20,000 acute services role still waiting to be filled.

Across England, around one in 10 full-time equivalent posts in the NHS in England were vacant at the end of June, the highest proportion since current records began in 2018.

There were 132,139 full-time equivalent (FTE) vacancies across the health service, up sharply from 105,855 at the end of March.

Vacancies had previously peaked at 111,864 in June 2019.

NHS Providers interim chief executive, Saffron Cordery said: “Today's vacancy figures are staggering and further proof that the NHS simply doesn't have enough staff to deliver everything being asked of it.

"With nearly one in 10 posts in trusts in England now vacant and tens of thousands more right across the health and care system, many staff face unsustainable workloads and burnout as they strive to bring down waiting lists and treat patients as quickly as possible in the face of ever-growing demand.

"The situation we are in could have been avoided. Successive governments have failed to adequately train and recruit the workforce the NHS needs.

"Not investing in training is a false economy and is the underlying cause of many of the problems the health system currently faces."

Experts have said the staffing crisis is one of the key factors fuelling these issues and have repeatedly called for a long-term workforce plan to tackle the gaps.

Vacancies across the NHS in England have been on a broadly upwards trend since March 2021, when the total stood at 76,082.

The new figures also show there were a record 46,828 FTE nursing vacancies in England at the end of June, representing a rate of 11.8 per cent – the highest level since 12.1 per cent in September 2019.

Again, London had the highest number with 11,185 which accounted for 15 per cent of full-time jobs left unstaffed.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said the new prime minister must act fast to give nursing staff a fair pay award as part of tackling the “NHS crisis”.

She added: “Two weeks before we open our strike ballot, these stark figures reveal what is happening in England’s NHS – record numbers of unfilled nurse jobs, and rising fast too.

“Ten of thousands of experienced nurses left last year at the very moment we cannot afford to lose a single professional, and patients pay a heavy price.

“Nursing staff are burnt out and simply not valued by their employers and Government.

“Ministers choosing to hold their pay well below inflation in a cost-of-living crisis is making more reconsider their future.

“Rather than leave a fantastic profession, I am telling members that the time has come to vote for strike action this year – it is the best way to now get politicians to listen and show what we mean when we say ‘enough is enough’.”

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) last month launched a consultation looking at possibly extending rules which were temporarily changed under coronavirus laws so staff could come out of retirement or increase their working commitments without having their pension benefits payments suspended.

The measures, which were introduced in March 2020 to encourage recent and partial retirees back to the front line during the pandemic, are currently set to run until October 31.

Health bosses said the consultation will ask the public and stakeholders whether the changes should be extended to March 31, 2023 ahead of a “challenging” winter as the NHS faces Covid-related backlogs, staffing issues and more people coming forward for checks.

The DHSC has previously said the Government is on track to deliver on its manifesto commitment to have 50,000 more nurses by 2024, with 29,000 more nurses already.