I am not sure if you will have seen these news items from last week before as they slipped under the radar in between all the stuff on the USA election and the EU refugee crisis. However in response to an FOI request from the BBC, the following figures were released rather quietly. The data that the BBC were given shows that on 1 December 2015, the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had more than 23,443 nursing vacancies – equivalent to 9% of the workforce. In fact in some areas, for example emergency departments in England and Wales, there were 1,265 vacancies for registered nurses – about 11% of the total. (No wonder NHS staff feel stressed, and overworked… that’s because they are trying to paper over the gaps!)
This is despite the findings of the Francis Report into the scandal at Stafford Hospital which identified that a shortage of nurses was a key factor in the poor care of patients.
So what is being done about it? Are we hiking up training numbers hugely? It appears not, we continue to poach staff from some of the poorest healthcare systems in the world. 2/3rds. (i.e. 69% ) of all NHS trusts and health boards are seeking staff overseas.
For more details about this see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35667939
NHS Scotland’s numbers have still to be released. I await them with interest.