STAFFING PROBLEMS

Nursing vacancies top 36,000, official analysis reveals (HSJ: 4 December 2017)

There are at least 36,000 vacancies for registered nurses in the English NHS, according to a new official analysis which has provided the first accurate picture of the issue for several years.

NHS Improvement has told HSJ it has been collecting monthly information from trusts since April 2017 and cross referencing the figures with other centrally held data sets to draw up the most accurate picture of nursing vacancies affecting the NHS. 

The regulator has been asking trusts to provide vacancy data as part of their monthly returns. Officials have compared trusts’ reports to their annual operating plans, actual staff in post, and the financial returns to provide an upper and lower limit of vacancies.

The results show the NHS has at least 36,000 full-time equivalent nursing vacancies but the number could be as high as 42,000.

NHS trusts used to be required to submit vacancy data as part of official statistics but this has not been the case for several years. ...read more

 

Patient care directly impacted on by cancer workforce shortages. (HSJ: 4 December 2017)

Workforce shortages across cancer care are having a direct impact on the treatment of patients, Cancer Research UK has warned ahead of the publication of a major NHS workforce strategy for the sector.

The charity warned in a new report analysing shortages in the cancer workforce, shared exclusively with HSJ, that cancer care could face substantial shortfalls by 2022 based on demand growth and existing vacancies.

The charity’s workforce report has formed part of considerations by Health Education England as it draws up a new workforce strategy ordered by health secretary Jeremy Hunt and due to be published in coming weeks.

The report said: “There are shortages across the workforce. Although some workforce groups have modest vacancy figures, our research indicates that these are likely to be underestimates of the true workforce gaps as many posts have been vacant for up to two years and vacancy rates only reflect current vacancies.

“These workforce shortages are having both direct and indirect implications for the workforce and the treatments they are able to deliver. The lack of time to do research came up as a theme across all the workforce groups. Staff shortages are also affecting services’ ability to successfully provide high quality patient experience, long-term workforce planning and professional training and development amongst many others.”...see more

 

Pressure and cash concerns rise as GP numbers drop by 1000 over the last year. (National Health Executive: 21 November 2017)         

GP numbers have fallen by around 1,200 in the last year despite the government’s pledge in 2015 to bring in another 5,000 practitioners.

Official figures from NHS Digital show a 3.5% fall since September 2016 – from 34,495 full-time equivalent GPs to 33,302 in September this year.

High pressure and low funding to the health sector are being blamed for the drop, as concerns rise among fears a fifth of GPs could leave after Brexit.

NHS Digital also warns this overall figure is artificially inflated by changes in how numbers are reported which saw the figure increase by 300.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), said staff were “gravely concerned” by the numbers and were desperate for progress to be made.

“We understand that change takes time, but we desperately need more family doctors, and we need them sooner rather than later,” she commented...see more

 

5th of EU doctors plan to leave the UK and the NHS ‘will not be able to cope’. (National Health Executive: 14 November 2017)                                        

Almost a fifth of EU doctors have made plans to leave the UK following the Brexit referendum, a survey by the BMA has found.

Currently EU workers make up around 7.7% of UK doctors, and many more work in public health and academic medicine.

But almost half of those surveyed said that they were considering leaving the UK following the referendum, and 29% said that they were unsure about whether their future remained in the UK.

When asked the reason that they were considering leaving the UK, the top three reasons cited were Brexit, negative attitudes towards EU workers and uncertainty over future immigration rules.

BMA treasurer Dr. Andrew Dearden called this revelation “a real concern,” and argued that the NHS “would not be able to cope” without its EU doctors.

“We need clarity on what the future holds for EU citizens and their families living in the UK, and an end to the uncertainty and insecurity that could see many voting with their feet,” he added...see more

 

NHS becomes ‘less attractive’ to EU nurses causing a large rise in the number of nurses leaving the NHS. (National Health Executive: 2 November 2017)                  

In the last year, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of EU nurses and midwives leaving the NHS.

Figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) show that workers are also joining the service in much reduced numbers – 90% less registrations than last year.

The numbers indicate a wider drop in the numbers of clinical staff as, for the first time, the NHS suffers from more people leaving the register than joining.

Total figures for nurses and midwives leaving show an increase of 4,500 from 2015/16, with a rise across all countries of registration but specifically Europe where the numbers rose by two thirds.

In comparison, the same number of staff are joining the service overall against last year, meaning there is a constant reduction in total numbers.

“Any indication that the NHS is becoming less attractive as a place to work for nurses and midwives, from abroad or from the UK, is worrying,” commented Danny Mortimer, co-convenor of the Cavendish Coalition...see more

 

Understaffed nursing workforce spikes public concern.  (National Health Executive: 25 October 2017)

The majority of the public believe that NHS nurses are underpaid and that there are not enough staff, according to a new YouGov poll.

The news comes as members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) hold a demonstration outside parliament to protest the 1% public sector pay cap.

Although Jeremy Hunt has previously confirmed the policy will come to an end next year, nurses are concerned about the lack of detail and clear dates for the implementation of the plans.

The union has called on government to lift the cap in the Autumn Budget, claiming it causes serious understaffing problems and stops organisations from retaining staff.

The survey, undertaken by YouGov on behalf of the RCN, found that seven in 10 people believe there are not enough nurses employed by the NHS, while 68% are concerned that nurses are underpaid...see more

 

NHS maternity wards in England forced to close 382 times last year (The Guardian: 8 August 2017)

Maternity wards in England were forced to close their doors 382 times in 2016, according to new figures that have triggered claims of women being “pushed from pillar to post in the throes of labour”.

Campaigners warned that expectant mothers could be left in fear of giving birth at the roadside after a wide-reaching freedom of information request found a 70% increase in the number of maternity ward closures over two years.

Research by the Labour party found that 42 hospital trusts had been forced to shut their doors at some point over the last year – 44% of those who responded – with many blaming staff shortages and bed and cot capacity.

Fourteen of them admitted they had shut down more than 10 times, with some taking more than 24 hours to reopen.

In total, there were 382 occasions when units had to close in 2016. This figure is slightly higher than the 375 occasions from the year before, and an almost 70% increase on the 225 in 2014.

The findings triggered an immediate response from campaign groups, who pointed to the government’s own maternity policy, which says there should be enough midwives to prevent this happening.

Elizabeth Duff, senior policy adviser at NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents, said: “It’s appalling that a shortage of midwives and equipment means that so many units have been closed time and again so that pregnant women are pushed from pillar to post in the throes of labour.”... read more

 

Royal College of GPs warn profession could reach 'breaking point' (The Guardian: 31 July 2017)

A government pledge to increase GP numbers by 5,000 within three years is falling short amid fears the profession “could reach breaking point”, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has warned.

The RCGP’s annual report on plans to improve GP services in England raises concern that many doctors are yet to observe significant changes in GP numbers under the recruitment drive, with GP numbers having fallen since September 2016.

A survey of GPs for the report found that 39% think they are unlikely to be working in the profession in England in five years’ time.

The professional body for family doctors in the UK said the findings sparked fears the profession “could reach breaking point” unless progress on the shake-up was accelerated.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, said: “It takes at least three years in speciality training for new doctors to enter the workforce as independent consultant GPs, so while it’s fantastic that more foundation doctors are choosing general practice this year, if more people are leaving the profession than entering it, we’re fighting a losing battle.

“Above all else we need to see efforts stepped up to keep hard-working, experienced GPs in the profession, and the best way to do this is to tackle workload pressures and improve the conditions under which all GPs and our teams are working.... read more

 

Labour demands inquiry into privatisation of NHS-owned recruiter (The Guardian: 27 July 2017)

Labour is demanding an inquiry into the privatisation of a government-owned NHS recruitment firm that saves hospitals £70m a year.

NHS Professionals helps the health service in England tackle its staffing crisis by arranging for doctors and nurses on its books to cover potentially harmful gaps in rotas.

Labour has asked the National Audit Office to look into why Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, is selling a profitable and effective company his Department of Health owns. The firm should be kept in public hands and allowed to continue playing a key role in alleviating widespread NHS understaffing, the party says.

Justin Madders, the shadow health minister, has written to Sir Amyas Morse, the comptroller and auditor general who heads up Whitehall’s spending watchdog, asking him to intervene before a sale is finalised, possibly as soon as next month.

“On the government’s own estimates NHSP saves the taxpayer around £70m a year by organising last-minute or replacement staffing for NHS trusts in England, and ensuring hospitals don’t have to rely on expensive private agencies”, Madders writes.

He wants the NAO to “examine the business case that has been produced [by the DH] to ascertain a better understanding of what additionality the private sector can bring to what on the face of it is already a successful organisation.”

NHSP supplies staff cheaper than those obtained through private agencies which Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, has castigated for charging “rip-off” rates.... read more

 

Soaring NHS vacancies prompt warnings of 'desperate' understaffing (The Guardian: 25 July 2017)

The number of vacancies in the NHS has soared by 15.8% over the last year, prompting warnings that the service is facing “desperate” problems of understaffing.

Figures for England released on Tuesday by NHS Digital show that the number of full-time equivalent posts available rose from 26,424 in March 2016 to 30,613 in March 2017 – the highest number on record.

A total of 86,035 such positions were advertised in the first quarter of this year, underlining the large number of health professionals and other staff that NHS trusts are seeking to fill.

However, NHS staff groups said the figures were a serious underestimate of the true number of vacancies, while NHS Digital itself admitted that they were undercounting, especially for nurses. The data also did not cover staff employed by GP surgeries, such as practice nurses...read more

 

NHS England 'urgently needs 2,200 more A&E consultants' (19 July 2017)

Hospitals are being urged to urgently more than double the number of consultants on duty in A&E units in order to ensure that patients receive safe care. The NHS in England must recruit 2,200 extra A&E consultants in the next five years, more than the 1,632 who already work there, according to the body representing emergency medicine doctors.

The increase is needed to help the NHS avoid the sort of winter crisis that occurred last winter and to stop A&E doctors quitting due to burnout, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) claims. Dr Taj Hassan, the college’s president, said the costs of such a dramatic rise could be covered by redirecting the £400m a year hospitals currently have to spend on locum and agency A&E doctors as a result of understaffing.

“It is vital that we get our staffing right. Each emergency medicine consultant in England is responsible for around 10,000 patients a year. Our staff are working to the very limits of their abilities to provide safe, compassionate care. This is leading to burnout and doctors leaving the profession, creating a vicious circle,” said Hassan, a consultant in Leeds... read more

 

NHS staff shortages to blame for big rise in cancelled operations on children and young people, Labour warns (17 July 2017)

Operations on children and young people are being cancelled in huge numbers as NHS staff shortages bite, Labour reveals today.

More than 12,000 procedures – including for broken bones and treatments under anaesthetic – were scrapped last year, a rise of 35 per cent in just three years, the party said.

A lack of available anaesthetists, surgeons, consultants or theatre staff, as well as bed shortages and a lack of theatre time, were key reasons given by health bodies for the cancellations.

[...]

Labour’s research had uncovered 12,349 cancellations of surgical procedures planned for children and young people in 2016-17, across 76 health trusts, Mr Ashworth said.

This was 35 per cent higher than in 2013-14, when 9,128 cancellations were recorded, he said.

The total number of cancelled children’s operations since 2013-14 was 46,211 – with by far the highest number in London at 12,904.... read more

 

NHS faces staff crisis as student nurse applications plummet after Tories scrapped their grants (The Mirror: 13 July 2017)

Nursing leaders today warn the NHS faces a staffing crisis after figures showed a sharp fall in applications for training places.

The number applying to be student nurses has dropped from 65,620 to 53,010 - a fall of 12,610 on last year.

The fall comes after the Government axed student bursaries for trainee nurses and midwives.

From this September they have to take out loans to cover living costs and £9,000 a year fees.

The Royal College of Nursing said the figures case doubt on the ability to train enough nurses to fill the 40,000 vacant nurse posts in England.

The figure by the university applications service UCAS showed applications in England for student nursing places were down 23% in England.

There was also a 28% fall in the number of people aged 25 and over applying and a 27% fall in number of male applicants.... read more

 

More nurses and midwives leaving UK profession than joining, figures reveal (The Guardian: 3 July 2017)

More midwives and nurses are leaving the profession in the UK than joining for the first time on record, with the number departing having risen by 51% in just four years.

The figures, which will add to concerns about NHS staff shortages, show that 20% more people left the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register than joined it in 2016/17. The overall number of leavers was 34,941, compared with 23,087 in 2012/13.

While concerns have previously been raised about a large drop in EU registrants in the wake of the Brexit vote, the NMC figures, published on Monday, show that it is the departure of UK nurses – who make up 85% of the register – that is having the biggest impact. In 2016/17, 29,434 UK nurses and midwives left the register, up from 19,818 in 2012/13, and 45% more UK registrants left than joined last year.

Unions say there is a shortage of 40,000 nurses and 3,500 midwives in England alone and they, and NHS trusts, blamed the pay cap and workplace pressures....read more

 

Incidences of rota gaps surge (BMA: 26 June 2017)

Around two-thirds of hospital doctors have experienced rota gaps in the last 12 months, a new survey has found.

The BMA quarterly survey also found that 65 per cent of hospital doctors and 48 per cent of GPs reported vacancies in their departments and practices.

Speaking at this year’s annual representative meeting in Bournemouth today, BMA council chair Mark Porter warned that workforce shortages, along with financial underinvestment, were critically affecting staff morale and patient care.

Dr Porter, who told the conference that the NHS was now effectively ‘running on fumes’, said that the Government had to stop passing the buck and engage in finding solutions to the challenges facing the health service.

He said: ‘We still have one of the best healthcare systems the world. It treats more patients than ever before, and deploys treatments of which I could only have dreamt when I qualified as a doctor.

‘But after years of underinvestment, with a growing, ageing population, and despite the extraordinary dedication of its staff, it is failing too many people, too often.’... Read more

 

96% drop in EU nurses registering to work in Britain since Brexit vote (The Guardian, 12 June 2017)

The number of nurses from the EU registering to work in the UK has dropped by 96% less than a year after the Brexit vote, official figures show.

Last July, 1,304 EU nurses came to work in the UK; this fell to just 46 in April, Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) statistics show.

The Health Foundation, which obtained the figures via a freedom of information request, said there was a shortage of 30,000 nurses in England alone, adding that the NHS could not afford such a drop.

Anita Charlesworth, the charity’s director of research and economics, said: “Without EU nurses it will be even harder for the NHS and other employers to find the staff they need to provide safe patient care. The findings should be a wake-up call to politicians and health service leaders.

“Clearly, action is needed to offset any further loss of EU nursing staff in the near future. But the overall shortage of 30,000 nurses is not a shortage caused by the Brexit vote. The chronic shortage of nurses is the result of years of short-term planning and cuts to training places. A sustainable, long-term approach to workforce planning is desperately needed.”... Read more

 

NHS pay cap 'must be lifted' (BBC News: 8 May 2017)

The pay cap on NHS staff must be lifted because it puts patient safety at risk, NHS bosses say.

NHS Providers said the cap, which limits pay rises to 1% a year to 2019, was causing severe recruitment and retention problems in England.

The body, which represents NHS trusts in England, said the next government must look at the issue immediately.

Labour says it would look to increase pay, but the Tories and Lib Dems have not yet set out any pay plans.

Labour wants to increase pay so it better reflects the cost of living, but has not said by how much.

Over the weekend the Lib Dems did announce they would increase income tax by a penny-in-the-pound to boost investment in the NHS....Read more

 

Nurses will see their pay ‘cut by 12% over a decade’ (The Guardian: 29 April 2017)

workers will have had their pay cut by 12% by the end of the decade because of a government-imposed wage restraint that is now exacerbating chronic understaffing, new research reveals.

The 625,000 health service staff who earn at least £22,000 will have seen their income fall by 12% between 2010-11 and 2020-21 as a result of years of below-inflation 0% and 1% pay rises eroding their spending power, according to a report by the Health Foundation thinktank

The real-terms drop in pay will hit NHS personnel across the UK who are on band five or above in the service’s pay scales, which includes all 315,000 nurses. The Royal College of Nursing’s 270,000 members are currently being polled on whether they should strike – for the first time in their history – in protest at the government holding down their pay by limiting rises to 1% every year until 2020.

Staff salaries have already been cut by 6% since the coalition came to power in 2010, more than the 2% seen across the economy as a whole in that time, the report found. Midwives have seen their pay shrink by 6%, but doctors and health visitors have been hit by 8% and 12% drops respectively....read more

 

Children's hospital units forced to close to new patients due to staff shortages (The Guardian: 18 April 2017)

Hospital units that treat children and very sick babies are having to shut their doors temporarily to new patients because they are “dangerously” short of specialist staff, a new report reveals.

Widespread shortages of paediatric doctors and nurses also means that the care children receive is being put at risk, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

A chronic lack of staff is forcing doctors to take potentially life or death decisions about which patients to treat quickly, one paediatrician said. “Last night we only had one registrar instead of two. We had an emergency in A&E and [the] labour ward at the same time and she had to make a snap decision which to go to. It’s being forced to dice with death,” said the medic, who asked to remain anonymous.

Another paediatrician said: “It’s becoming normal to do the work of two or three so corners are constantly being cut and kids don’t get the time and attention they deserve.”...read more

NHS facing potential 42,000 nursing shortfall by 2020 (National Health Executive: 2 May 2017)

The NHS could face a crisis in nursing by 2020, as there may be a shortfall of 42,000 people, around 12% of the profession, according to new research.

In a report released today by the Health Foundation called ‘In Short Supply’, figures in the 2016 NHS Staff Survey were analysed, unearthing fresh concern that staffing levels are insufficient to support nurses to do their job properly.

Pay was also found to be a problem that is likely to worsen in the future, as it was revealed that NHS staff with salaries on pay bands five and above, which includes nurses, will drop by 12% between 2010-11 and 2020-21 in real terms. This is a figure that the Health Foundation believes is set to worsen in the future.

This follows Jeremy Hunt announcing a real terms pay cut at the end of March, a policy that was described as a “bitter blow” to nurses by union the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

During the run up to the general election on 8 June, last week Labour pledged to axe the 1% pay cap for NHS staff in an effort to show the party’s support for health workers – something a number of unions immediately threw their support behind...read more

 

NHS England has made ‘no progress’ on increasing GP numbers, says PAC (National Health Executive: 27 April 2017)

There has been “no progress” made by NHS England on increasing the number of GPs despite NHS England targets to train 5,000 more doctors by 2020, MPs have today warned.

In its ‘Access to General Practice: progress review’ report, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that since its last report a year ago, at the time when the GP Forward View was developed, little had been done to actually deliver the ambitions set out in the strategy.

This follows figures that showed the number of doctors in general practice had actually fallen between March 2016 and September 2016, contrary to the strategy’s plans. 

PAC stated: “The number of GPs has fallen in the last year, from 34,592 full-time equivalent doctors in September 2015 to 34,495 in September 2016.

“Increasing this number relies on both increasing the recruitment of trainees and improving the retention of the existing workforce, but Health Education England still lacks a credible plan for ensuring that there are enough GPs and that they are in the right areas.

“Health Education England accepted that more could be done to promote general practice as a career choice, and highlighted work underway to make training options more flexible. NHS England added it has a development programme in place to tackle workload in general practice.”

On top of this, the committee raised concern that patient outcomes were being affected due to GP services being closed at core hours...read more

 

Social care system 'beginning to collapse' as 900 carers quit every day (BBC: 11 April 2017)

More than 900 adult social care workers a day quit their job in England last year, new figures reveal.

Service providers warn that growing staff shortages mean vulnerable people are receiving poorer levels of care.

In a letter to the prime minister, the chairman of the UK Homecare Association said the adult social care system - which applies to those over the age of 18 - has begun to collapse.

The government said an extra £2bn is being invested in the system.

An ageing population means demand is increasing for adult social care services.

Those who provide care to people directly in their own homes, or in nursing homes, say a growing shortage of staff means people face receiving deteriorating levels of care.

"You just can't provide a consistent level of care if you have to keep recruiting new people", said Sue Gregory, who has been a care home nurse in North Yorkshire for 13 years.

"Its very simple, not many people want to do this kind of work, and this is a profession that relies on you getting to know the people you are looking after."...read more

 

Record number of GP closures force 265,000 to find new doctors (The Guardian: 7 April 2017)

A record number of GP practices closed last year, forcing thousands of patients to find a new surgery, in spite of government attempts to stop local doctors shutting their doors.

NHS England data showed nearly a hundred practices closed in 2016, a 114% increase in GP closures compared with figures from 2014. Of the 92 practices that shut, 58 did so completely, while 34 merged with other local surgeries in order to pool resources.

The drop in GP numbers meant 265,000 patients – an increase of 150% from 2014 – had to change their practice last year, often travelling further for care. Brighton was particularly badly affected with 9,000 patients displaced when four practices closed. There have been a total of seven closures in the city over the past two years.

The new data, obtained by the GP website Pulse, has renewed fears that family doctors are not coping with increased demand and need an urgent cash injection to survive. Senior doctors also expressed concern that government funding was not being targeted correctly. ...read more

 

More than 7,000 nurses could face axe under secret NHS plans (The Telegraph: 16 January 2017)

More than 7,000 nurse posts could be axed from NHS hospitals across the country despite a mounting Accident & Emergency crisis, new plans reveal.

Every area has been ordered to draw up meaures to save £22bn and reorganise health services in order to meet rising demand from an ageing population.

But new documents suggest that the proposals could result in the loss of more than 17,000 staff by 2020 - including 7,300 nurses and midwives.

Last night senior nurses said the implications for safety were “truly frightening” with widespread shortages of staff already in overstretched hospitals.

The forecasts, seen by Health Service Journal, also reveal that the plans rely on a dramatic reversal in trends which have seen casualty units under unprecedented pressure.

While A&E attendances across England have risen by 4.5 per cent and emergency admissions by 3.5 per cent in the past 12 months, the plans rely on a 4.2 per cent fall in attendances, and a 0.8 per cent drop in admissions.

Health authorities across England have been ordered to draw up 44 “sustainability and transformation plans” (STPs) to tackle rising pressures on the health service.

The controversial measures will see swingeing bed cuts in many parts of the country, and widespread closures of Accident & Emergency departments....read more

 

What Impact does Brexit have on nursing? (The Guardian: 28th February 2017)

The NHS faces a major shortfall in nurses – and the EU referendum result threatens to derail supply further.

The NHS faces a severe nursing shortage. An ageing population has pushed up demand, while an ageing nursing workforce – with one in three nurses set to retire in the next 10 years – is reducing supply. The shortage is particularly acute in mental health, with specialist nurse numbers falling more than 10% in the past five years.

And the Brexit vote may make it even worse. A July 2016 Institute for Employment Studies (IES) report reveals about 4.5% of NHS nurses in 2015 were from EU countries excluding Ireland, a steep rise from the 1% of 2009. In some trusts in London and the east of England, the proportion is as high as 20%.

Nurses who have been here more than five years will be eligible to remain. But what will happen to the others? Helen McKenna, senior policy adviser at the King’s Fund thinktank, believes that the government “urgently needs to clarify its position on the status of nationals who are already here in the UK working in health and social care roles”. While the prime minister has said she would like to guarantee the rights of EU citizens already living here, that is by no means certain. McKenna says: “Her position is likely to be dependent on reciprocal agreements for UK citizens living elsewhere in Europe.”...Read More

 

Maternity units across England facing the axe under plans to transform NHS care (The Mirror : 16 February 2017)

Eleven maternity and neonatal units across England are reportedly facing either being axed or merged under plans to transform obstetrics care in the NHS .

Proposals to remodel the health service in order to plug a £22 billion hole by 2021 reveals major changes across toe maternity services.

Now hospitals in Lancashire and South Cumbria, West Yorkshire and Harrogate, South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Rutland, Birmingham and Solihull, Milton Keynes, Dorset, Coventry and Warwickshire are being marked to shut or to move substantial distances.

A week ago the Royal College of Midwives’ annual report said maternity services across Britain could already reach “crisis point”, as more than a third of midwives are nearing retirement age.

The report said that more student midwives are needed to be trained as a “matter of urgency”...read more

 

NHS intensive care ‘at its limits’ because of staff shortages (The Guardian : 29 January 2017)

The NHS’s network of intensive care units is “at its limits” because they are overwhelmed by staff shortages and the sheer number of patients needing life-or-death care, senior doctors are warning in an unprecedented intervention.

Intensive care units (ICUs) are becoming so full that patient safety is increasingly at risk because life-saving operations – including heart, abdominal and neurosurgery – are having to be delayed, the leaders of the specialist doctors who staff the units have told the Guardian.

“Intensive care is at its limits in terms of capacity and struggles to maintain adequate staffing levels,” said Dr Carl Waldmann, the dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM).

“It is important that bed occupancy rates do not exceed 85% in order to ensure there is capacity for emergencies. The reality is that many units are quickly reaching 100% capacity whenever there is excessive hospital activity,” he added...read more

 

Earlier articles can be found here 

Key Facts

Since the Coalition came to power in 2010 the NHS has lost as many as 6000 nursing posts.

Paramedics stress-related sick days increase by 28% between 2012 and 2014

Hospital staff absences for mental health reasons double

Key Trends:

Between May 2010 and July 2012: the total NHS workforce decreased by 2%.

Within this change:

The number of doctors rose by 7.5%, qualified midwives by 5%, and qualified scientific, therapeutic and technical staff by 2%.

The number of qualified nurses decreased by 2%.

Largest decrease in NHS infrastructure support at 9%

A decrease in support to doctors and nursing staff by 2.5%.

  

 

Health and Social Care Information Centre Workforce Statistics
 
 
 
"The latest statistics show that the cuts to NHS staff show no sign of slowing down" Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing
 

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