One in ten NHS staffing posts is vacant and the biggest gaps are in nursing, an analysis has found.
Almost 100,500 full-time jobs are unfilled including 43,000 in nursing – 1 in 8 of the total.
Approximately 11,200 doctor posts are empty and this number is rising faster than amongst other healthcare staff.
According to a Labour analysis on NHS figures, almost 100,500 full-time jobs are unfilled, including 43,000 in nursing
Labour, who obtained the figures, said the Government’s workforce policies had created a ‘disaster.’
They said hospitals were having to spend billions a year hiring agency doctors and nurses as they were so understaffed.
The figures were obtained from Freedom of Information responses from a sample 82 hospitals, community and mental health trusts, about a third of the total.
Amongst these trusts the total vacancy rate for all staff was 9 per cent, but 12.2 per cent for nursing and 9.3 per cent for doctors.
Assuming the figures are similar for the other trusts, then approximately 100,500 full-time NHS posts are vacant.
As well as the gap in nursing jobs, the Labour analysis also suggests that 11,200 doctor jobs are unfilled in the NHS
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: ‘Tory mismanagement of the NHS workforce has been a disaster for staff and patients alike.
‘For years the Government has failed to ensure enough new recruits coming through in key specialities, while failed policy decisions like the NHS pay cap and the ending of the NHS bursary have contributed to a growing crisis.
‘There is now an urgent need for a sustainable, fully funded plan to get the right numbers of staff in place to keep patients safe.
‘Labour’s research today has shown that NHS workforce shortages in key areas are continuing to get worse year on year – ministers must take action before it’s too late.’
The shortage of nursing has partly come about because the Government failed to train up enough nurses, in anticipation of the rising patient demand.
Unions say it was made worse by the pay freeze imposed by ministers since 2010 which prompted many experienced nurses to leave or take early retirement.
The staffing crisis is being driven by high demand on the NHS because of migration and the ageing population
But the NHS has always been understaffed – throughout its 70-year history – as it has always expanded at a faster rate than it has recruited.
The current staffing crisis is being driven by the unprecedented demand, due to migration and the ageing population.
The figures did not include GP vacancies – it only covered hospital and community trusts – but these are likely to be extremely high.
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: ‘This analysis pulls back the curtain on the state of staffing in the NHS this winter.
‘Despite ministers’ rhetoric on the importance of safety, it will enter a perilous January without enough staff to give safe care.
‘Nurses are spread too thinly and starting to blow the whistle on falling standards.
‘Hospital wards and care homes alike increasingly rely on unregistered healthcare assistants, especially at night.
‘The Government must no longer allow nursing on the cheap – patients, particularly vulnerable and older individuals, can pay the highest price.’