100,000 vacancies contribute to NHS crisis

pharmafile | December 19, 2017 | News story | Manufacturing and Production, Medical Communications NHS, UK, biotech, drugs, nurses, pharma, pharmaceutical 

Warning shots have been fired by both the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Labour Party about the recruitment issues facing the NHS, contributing to difficulties in finding staff to fill the more than 100,000 vacancies currently in the system.

The data was gathered through a freedom of information request to 82 NHS trusts across England. Among the 100,000 vacancies, there were found to be 42,000 nursing vacancies and 11,000 unfilled doctor positions.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth, who instigated the investigation, said: “Tory mismanagement of the workforce has been a disaster for staff and patients alike.”

At the same time, the GMC found that levels of doctor entering UK practices has remained steady between 2012 and 2017, with an average 13,000 doctors joining the workforce each year. However, keeping staffing levels at current levels is not enough to maintain services, with the GMC finding that there was an increase of 28% of attendance to A&E services between 2012-13 and 2016-17.

Contributing to the difficulties that will be faced by the healthcare system, the GMC report also noted that over the next two decade the total number of people aged 65 and over is projected to grow by nearly 50%.

Within this figure, the number of people aged over 85 is expected to double from 1.6 million to 3.2 million by 2041. The elderly age groups often have the most healthcare needs, placing an increasing amount of stress on the system.

The report concluded on the crisis that: “Although the needs of these patients will be met not just by doctors but by a range of health professionals working closely together, the medical profession will undoubtedly need to grow to meet this extra demand. Twenty years may seem like a long time but not when you consider how long it takes for a doctor to complete their university education and, if they choose to become a consultant or GP, their subsequent postgraduate training.”

The Department of Health in England countered the claims by pointing to the fact that the number of training places would be increased for doctor by 25% in the coming years.

Yet, there is a greater degree of uncertainty whether these positions will be taken up, with recruitment from other countries at the moment being used to fill gaps. The number of applications to nursing positions has already dropped by 18% from admissions in 2017. This has been blamed on the decision to remove the student bursary for nurses.

Ben Hargreaves

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