The region of England where 1 in 8 nursing posts is empty

EMBARGOED TO 0001 THURSDAY NOVEMBER 4 File photo dated 27/01/21 of nurses working. Nurses will start voting on Thursday on whether to take industrial action in the ongoing dispute over NHS pay. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is continuing its campaign against the Government's controversial 3% increase, along with other health workers' unions. The ballot of RCN members in England and Wales will ask how willing they are to strike or to take other forms of action such as working to rule.
The NHS needs nurses all across England. (PA)

One in eight nursing posts in London is vacant, according to new figures which lay bare the scale of the NHS recruitment crisis.

According to the latest data from NHS England, the vacancy rate of nurses for England as a whole was 10.5% as of 31 September, up from 10.1% the year before.

This equates to 39,813 current nursing vacancies in England.

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Across the NHS as a whole, there were 99,460 vacancies, up from 87,241 from the previous year.

London has the highest rate of vacant posts at just over 10%, compared to 5.3% in the South West.

The recruitment crisis come as the NHS faces one of its most difficult winters, with waiting lists at record levels and COVID continuing to place strain on hospitals.

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This week, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt tried to force the government to fund more training for new doctors and nurses in order to reduce the need for the NHS to rely on agency staff.

Speaking to The Telegraph he said: "We spend about £6 billion a year on locums (agency staff)... far too much money and locums are not good for hospitals, are not good for patients because you don't have that continuity of care. So this will be a tiny fraction of that amount."

He argued the government should publish detailed information on staffing needs every two years, and pay close attention to the number of doctors we are going to have in "seven, eight, nine years' time".

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The government rejected the proposals, which were voted down in the House of Commons – though 18 Tories rebelled against their party to vote in favour.

Hunt, the chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, said the government was unlikely to support his ideas because of their focus on short-term pressure points like A&Es and cancer treatment.

He vowed to continue to try and push his amendment as the bill passed through the House of Lords.

NHS Providers boss Chris Hopson warned on Sunday the health service was suffering from “unprecedented degree of pressure” despite not yet being at the winter peak.

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Health secretary Sajid Javid has warned that the current waiting list figure, which is at a record high of 5.9 million people waiting for elective procedures, “is going to go up before it comes down”.

The staffing crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better after the government announced COVID-19 vaccines would be mandatory for all NHS staff starting from April.

About 100,000 NHS staff have not had a jab so far.

An impact report by the government estimated that by the end of the grace period around 88,000 health workers, including 73,000 NHS staff, will still be unvaccinated.