NHS risks 350,000 staff gap by 2030 - thinktanks

FILE PHOTO: An NHS logo is displayed outside a hospital in London, Britain May 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Lack of staff now represents a bigger challenge to Britain's health service than funding and the system could face a 350,000 personnel shortage by 2030, leading health thinktanks warned on Thursday.

The situation is deteriorating in part due to "restrictive immigration policies exacerbated by Brexit", as well as the high numbers of doctors and nurses leaving their jobs early.

The King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation said there was already a current shortage of more than 100,000 staff the National Health Service (NHS) and, based on current trends, the gap could reach almost 250,000 by 2030.

"If the emerging trend of staff leaving the workforce early continues and the pipeline of newly trained staff and international recruits does not rise sufficiently, this number could be more than 350,000 by 2030," they said.

The government has pledged a 20.5 billion pounds ($26.6 billion) a year cash boost for the NHS but the thinktanks said if substantial staff shortages continued there was a risk that some of the money for front-line services would go unspent.

($1 = 0.7702 pounds)

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)