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NHS staff shortages must be addressed


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UPDATED

10 APR 2019


Most people are aware that the NHS has issues with staffing. There isn’t enough money in the healthcare organisation to employ enough nurses and healthcare professionals to meet demand. There is a growing number of studies which paint a concerning image of the future of the NHS, with the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, the PAC, being the latest body to raise concerns and doubts.

The PAC report suggested there are roughly 100,000 vacancies in the NHS. The report states that these vacancies represent a significant threat to the NHS’ financial sustainability. Worryingly, the report suggests that there is “little sign of the shortfall improving”.

Longer-term concerns exist over NHS finances

There was acknowledgement the NHS balanced the budget in 2017/18, but there is a belief the organisations’ financial health is deteriorating.

The committee stated, “These staffing shortages present a major obstacle to the NHS’s financial viability, and we remain concerned about how the NHS can suitably address these workforce shortages. Should the NHS continue to lose staff at the current rate, or fail to attract enough employees from overseas, then the situation will rapidly reach crisis point.”

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul released a statement, saying; “The health service is facing an ongoing financial struggle that is impacting directly on patient care, with widespread staff shortages that have left a huge 100,000 vacancies unfilled. Patients are bearing the brunt of this failure, with lengthening waits at hospitals and GP practices, and delays in other forms of treatment. To avoid a disastrous summer crisis, we need Ministers to grasp what is happening on the ground. The promised resource increases in the NHS long-term plan need to move from the realm of promises to that of reality, and crucially we need an explicit workforce strategy to address the shortages that are crippling services.'

Changes will be made

The PAC has requested the DHSC to contact them by July of 2019 and for this communication to detail how recruitment and retention of employees will be resolved and maintained going forward. There have also been calls from the committee for NHS England and NHS Improvement to indicate, by September of 2019, how they will:

• Assist local bodies to manage demand for services
• Help regional organisations understand the drivers of demand
• Assist in meeting demand
• Develop an understanding of how demand can be tackled by effective allocation of resources
• Make sure that the needs of patients are met and maintained
• Ensure that local organisation plans are realistic

The NHS knows that they are struggling and a spokesperson for NHS Improvement said they are developing a “people plan”. This is also known as the “workforce implementation plan”, and insiders say it will establish a 21st century NHS which will meet the growing demand by increasing the number of nurses and doctors.

At Atlantis Medical, we know that many people have concerns about the future of the NHS, so it cannot be a shock if reports and studies say the same thing. While it is heartening to know the NHS is aware of the problem and they say they are acting, there is a need for change to come sooner rather than later.

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