Latest NHS workforce data highlights why long term planning is needed

25 November 2021

Responding to the latest workforce statistics, sickness absence figures, and NHS vacancy data, published by NHS Digital, the director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Miriam Deakin said:

"While it is encouraging to see that the number of doctors and nurses has risen again this month, the number of staff shortages also continues to grow, with the NHS now having over 99,000 vacancies.

"The NHS is spending a staggering £6bn a year on temporary staff to plug these gaps.

"It is also concerning that the number of staff absences has increased again this month, and is now considerably higher than the same time last year, with the North West particularly affected.

"However, it’s good to see that the proportion of staff absent due to COVID-19 continues to fall since the peak in July.

"For some time now, trust leaders have said that workforce shortages, and the resulting unsustainable workloads on existing staff, is their biggest challenge.

"Our recent survey of trust leaders found that 94% are extremely or moderately concerned about staff burnout, which may be contributing to high levels of staff absences seen today.

"A fully costed and funded workforce plan, alongside increased long-term investment in workforce expansion, education and training, is absolutely crucial for the future sustainability of the NHS.

"Earlier this week, trust leaders were disappointed by the outcome of the vote on the amendment put forward by Jeremy Hunt on the Health and Care Bill on long term workforce planning.

"We hope the House of Lords takes the decisive action that is needed to rectify this."

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