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MPs warn NHS in England facing worst staffing crisis in history

Published on 25/07/22 at 08:59am

A recent report by MPs say that the large number of unfilled NHS job vacancies is posing a serious risk to patient safety.

England is now short of 12,000 hospital doctors and over 50,000 nurses and midwives, and the report has called this the worst workforce crisis in NHS history.

The report also said that a reluctance to decisively address the staffing gap could impair plans to tackle the COVID-19 treatment backlog.

Former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said: "Persistent understaffing in the NHS poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety, a situation compounded by the absence of a long-term plan by the government to tackle it." 

There is evidence that almost a million new jobs will need to be filled in health and social care by the beginning of the next decade. The report is calling for HMRC to be more proactive in enforcing the minimum wage, amid concerns that 17,000 care workers were paid below the legal of £9.50 an hour.

"Without the creation of meaningful professional development structures, and better contracts with improved pay and training, social care will remain a career of limited attraction, even when it is desperately needed," the report said.

Patricia Marquis, England director at the Royal College of Nursing, said the risk to staff and patients from low staffing levels should "shock ministers into action".

"On pay the committee was very clear, saying it is unacceptable that some NHS nurses are struggling to feed their families, pay their rent, and travel to work," she said.

Lina Adams

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