The international organization has emphasized that European countries, including the UK, will experience a catastrophic shortage of nurses and other healthcare workers unless they take immediate action to train, hire, and retain the upcoming generation of healthcare professionals.
The shocking news came in the wake of recent statistics that showed England’s NHS nurse shortfall has increased to a record-high level of around 47,000.
According to the latest WHO study, the UK falls short of many other European nations in terms of the total number of nurses available to care for the population.
As per data, there will only be 85 nurses for every 10,000 people in the UK in 2020, compared to 100–200 nurses for every 10,000 people in other western and northern European nations.
The 2018 data revealed in the report is both shocking and alarming as there was only 31 new nursing graduates per 100,000. Not only this, even now, the UK has lesser number of graduats opting for nursing in comparison to other European countries like France, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Romania.
Furthermore, in 13 of the 44 European countries where data is available, over 40% of doctors and nurses are above the age of 55.
According to 2019 data, the proportion of nurses over the age of 55 is higher in the UK than in other European countries such as France, Norway, Spain, and the Netherlands.
Additional workforce must be recruited within the next ten years to replace these employees when they retire, as per the report, while acknowledging that the overall number of health workers required in Europe is going to go up as the population ages and has more complex care needs.
According to the report, the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated pre-existing workforce pressures, with long working hours, insufficient professional support, severe staff shortages, and high Covid-19 infection and death rates affecting health workers across Europe.
The report concluded that European governments needed to invest more and better in the workforce. It suggests that policies be developed to protect the workforce by putting its interests and well-being at the center of the economic and social recovery from the pandemic.
WHO regional director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, warned: “All of these threats represent a ticking time bomb which, if not addressed, is likely to lead to poor health outcomes across the board, long waiting times for treatment, many preventable deaths, and potentially even health system collapse.
“The time to act on health and care workforce shortages is now.”
“Dynamic Health staff is working tirelessly to bridge this gap, and if you or anyone you know is a nurse and interested in living and working in the UK or any other European country, we are here to help you achieve your goal,” says Arun Kumar Ojha, Director, Dynamic Health Staff.