A recent State of Care report by the CQC has highlighted the desperate need for more nurses. There is a widespread issue across the country, of social care and health providers battling to keep staff.
According to the report by England’s health regulator, there is currently a deficit of 165,000 people, and NHS Digital vacancy statistics indicate there are 46,828 vacant nursing positions, a rate of 11.8% – compared to last year’s 10.3%.
In particular, the mental health nurse shortages are affecting vulnerable patients in secure units, and the level of care they receive. The CQC states: “In all regions, the mental health vacancy rate is higher than for acute healthcare services.” A severe lack of learning disability and community nurses was also
highlighted, which has a significant effect on the care being provided. Chief Executive, Ian Trenholm, states – “Health and care staff want to provide good safe care, but are struggling to do so in this gridlocked system.” The gridlock that he speaks of, includes the issue of people being unable to access primary healthcare, and the exacerbating effect that has on urgent and emergency services.
One of the key points raised by the CQC stated – “More than 9 in 10 NHS leaders have warned of a social care workforce crisis in their area, which they expect to get worse this winter.” They also pointed to a March 2022 survey by NHS Providers, in which NHS leaders stressed the problematic lack of midwives
and nursing staff.
Care homes are also struggling to recruit and retain appropriate staff, with many nurses moving on to different jobs within the NHS, that provide better pay and work conditions. That has led to some care homes ceasing to provide nursing care; with patients having to relocate or alternatively have their care handled by community nursing teams.
Despite indications that the government’s target of 50,000 additional nurses will be met by March 2024, The King’s Fund analysis pointed out that recruitment is not keeping pace with demand, an whilst the number of nurses working within the NHS has been growing, it is not impacting the vacancy numbers or the shortfall within the NHS.
The NMC said: “While our latest data shows our register is at an all-time high we need a long-term, sustainable workforce plan that addresses the gaps and support required by all nursing and midwifery professionals, particularly those working in the community or in mental health and
learning disability services.”
Earlier in the year, Health secretary Steve Barclay, told The Times the NHS should would recruit more nurses from overseas, suggesting countries such as the Kenya and India for recruitment drives. That was followed by an announcement from NHS England in September, stating that additional funding would be available to help grow the workforce, with NHS trusts able to claim £7000 for every overseas nurse arriving between January 1 st and 31 st March 2023.