NHS has set its target to recruit 50,000 nurses in 2023-24, but still, after achieving the target, the country will have a shortage of 40,000 nurses. The new analysis from NHS suggests that the country will face a shortage of nursing staff.
The NHS work projection 2022 provides information on workforce supply and demand in England in the coming years. In the comparison of 2020-21, the government is planning to recruit an extra 50,000 nurses this year. However, the new numbers of the required workforce in the health sector seem arbitrary and do not match the rising demand for nurses from the aging population and patients dealing with complex health issues. As per the previous years’ trends and other related information, the NHS has found that in the worst scenario, the country may face a shortage of approx 1,40,600 nurses by the end of this decade in 2030-31.
The number of students getting admission to nursing courses is a ray of hope for the health sector. In recent years it has been observed that the number of students who are leaving the nursing course before qualifying has been sustained for the last few years. A continuous recruitment process for overseas nurses and a drop in the number of nurses retiring from their jobs can also help to sustain the demand for nurses in the coming years. However, as of now, the numbers of required nurses in the social care unit are horrifying.
Anita Charlesworth, the Director of research and REAL Centre at the Health Foundation, said, “while the government appeared to be on track with its 50,000 more nurses target, it “relies heavily on sustaining historically high levels of international recruitment, very much a ‘quick fix and does not replace the need to train and retain more nurses in the UK.” On talking about the shortage of nurses she further added, “the 50,000 target is arbitrary and not based on the number of nurses the NHS needs; nor does it ensure that nurses are recruited to the areas and types of care where the need is greatest.” She also agreed that 50,000 extra nurses would not fulfill the demand, and NHS still have almost 40,000 short of what is needed.
Health care is an important sector for any country, and the shortage of nurses is a sensitive issue. In continuation to her talk about the shortage of nursing staff in the UK, Ms. Charlesworth asks the authorities to “put in place a robust, costed long-term plan to address workforce shortages, backed up by independent projections of how many staff will be needed.”
Patricia Marquis, Royal College of Nursing director for England, also showed concern about the projection of nurses’ shortage. She said, “These projections show the apocalyptic impact inactivity from ministers could have on the NHS in England – a potential shortfall of 140,000 nurses would be devastating for patient care.” She also mentioned the latest data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which says 20,000 nurses had left the country in the past year. She also urges the concerned ministers to “heed the warnings in these projections and act decisively with a fully funded health and care workforce strategy.”
NMC chief executive and registrar Andrea Sutcliffe also affirmed the need for a “sustainable workforce plan that can fulfill the demand for health and care services. She further added that the health care leaders that work on local and national levels must focus on the need of staff in this domain. According to her, staff recruitment, help for well-being, and retention can be effective steps to “close the gap between the nurses we’re likely to have and the nurses we’ll need in the years ahead.”
However, the spokesperson of the Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said that NHS has 9,600 more nurses in comparison to last year. He further added that NHS is over halfway to meeting its commitment of recruiting 50,000 more nurses in the next two years (by 2024). He further added that they are also working to retain the existing workforce, and for this, they are boosting the training and education routes into nursing. The spokesperson also said, “We use international recruitment opportunities to supply the NHS with a long-term sustainable nursing workforce.” “We have also commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce strategy to help provide certainty for the future,” the spokesperson said clearly.