Labour research reveals NHS workforce issues

28 Mar 19

More than 200,000 nurses have quit the NHS since 2010, according to research by the Labour Party.

The same research, verified by the House of Commons Library, also showed a 169% rise in voluntary resignations from the NHS because of poor work-life balance.

In 2017-18 18,013 people voluntarily resigned from the health service citing poor work-life balance, up from 6,699 in 2011-12.

The number of people quitting the NHS for health reasons went up 99% - from 2,126 resignations in 2011-12 to 4,234 in 2017-18, according the research. Labour also found there had been a 55% rise in voluntary resignations from the NHS as a whole since 2010. 

At a speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research on Wednesday morning, Ashworth said: “It is utterly staggering that our NHS has lost over 200,000 nurses under the Tories and that voluntary resignations from the NHS is up 55%.

“We are facing a retention crisis in our NHS and standards, which staff should expect – enshrined in the NHS constitution – have simply been abandoned.”

The analysis has been published ahead of the Workforce Implementation Plan for the NHS, which is being drawn up by Baroness Dido Harding.

The implementation plan was commissioned a week after the NHS Long Term Plan, and will bring together professional representatives and other bodies to look at how the health service can more effectively recruit and retain staff.

Ashworth told the IPPR event: “In too many places, staff do not feel valued by organisations – unless this changes the NHS workforce plan simply won’t matter.”  

“We can’t keep expecting staff to do more and more with what feels like less and less,” he added.

Ashworth said Labour was committed to investing £250m to bring continuing professional development funding to 2013-14 levels. This would bring the total workforce budget to just over £30m.  

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Our Long Term Plan sets out how we will make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world and ensure it is a consistently great place to work for our dedicated staff.

“There are over 15,800 more nurses on our wards since 2010, with 52,000 more in training – and we are improving staff retention by promoting flexibility, well-being and career development and helping more nurses return to practice.

“As well as providing funding to increase university training places, we will set out a full Workforce Implementation Plan later this year to ensure the NHS has the staff it needs for the future.”

Ashworth said a Labour government would spend £330m on staff training in 2023-24.

A recent report by health think-tanks suggested £900m would need to be invested annually until 2023-24 to tackle NHS workforce shortages.

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