NHS vacancies up 10% on last year

26 Jul 17

There were more than 86,000 empty posts in the NHS between January and March this year, a 10% increase on the previous year, according to figures from NHS Digital.

The figures, released yesterday, also show that in March alone there were 30,613 advertised vacancy full-time equivalents published in England. This compares to 26,424 in 2016 and 26,406 in 2015.

The highest percentage of vacancies was seen in the nursing and midwifery staff group, which accounted for 38% (11,485 out of 30,613) of vacancies full-time equivalents followed by 21% (6,575 out of 30,613) in the administrative and clerical staff group.

The number of vacancies across the first quarter of this year reached 86,035, up from 78,000 in the first quarter of last year. Of those, 81% (69,849) were permanent and 19% (16,186) were fixed-term.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Staffing is a priority – that is why we have invested in the frontline and there are almost 32,400 more professionally qualified clinical staff including almost 11,800 more doctors, and over 12,500 more nurses on our wards since May 2010.”

Sarah Carpenter, national officer for health at the Unite union, said: “The NHS is faced with a perfect storm over recruitment, which is disclosed in the sharp and very disturbing rise in advertised vacancies in England.

“The three main factors that need to be urgently addressed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt are the harsh pay austerity regime; the impact of Brexit on the estimated 55,000 EU nationals working for the NHS; and the obsession with constant reorganisation, the latest being the 44 controversial Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) in England.”

She urged the government to rethink its commitment to a 1% public sector pay cap which she argues is hurting recruitment and retention of staff in the NHS.

Carpenter also slammed the “failure” of the government to assure EU nationals working in the NHS that they were welcome leading to “vital EU workers in the NHS to vote with their feet” and leaving.

The figures follow a report from the Health Foundation that found applications for nurse registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council from EU nationals had crashed by 96% since the Brexit vote.

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