Workforce gaps in England and Wales plugged by support staff, says Health Foundation charity
TheNHSis relying on less qualified staff to plug workforce gaps because of a huge shortage of nurses, According to a new report.
Support staff, such as healthcare assistants and nursing associates, have been used to shore up staffing numbers, said theHealthFoundation charity.
The NHS has relied upon overseas recruitment, but a lack of EU nurses because of Brexit means it is now taking more nurses from countries such as India and the Philippines.
At present, there are almost 44, 000 nursing vacancies across the NHS (12% of the nursing workforce), but this could hit 100, 000 in a decade, the report said.
The analysis comes after the main political parties pledged to increase the number of nurses if they win the election.
The Tories have promised50, 000 more nurses, with 18, 500 of these coming from retaining existing nurses, 12, 500 from overseas, 5, 000 via nursing apprenticeships and 14, 000 through training.
Labor has said it would employ24, 000 more nursesand pledges to spend more overall than the Tories on the NHS.
Between March 2018 and March 2019, the NHS had the biggest annual increase this decade in its overall workforce, the new report said. It argued this masked an ongoing shift in the mix of clinical staff employed in the NHS.
In 2018 – 19, while doctor numbers grew by 2.5%, the number of full-time equivalent nurses grew by just 1.5% (4, (nurses).
Meanwhile, the NHS employed 6, 500 more full-time equivalent support staff for doctors, nurses and midwives – a 2.6% increase.
The report said: “The last decade has also seen a major change in the mix of nurses and clinical support staff (including healthcare assistants and nursing assistants).
“In 2009 – 10 there were equal numbers of nurses and support staff, with one clinical support staff member for every full-time equivalent nurse in the NHS.
“By 2018 – 19, the number of support staff per full-time equivalent nurse had risen 10% to 1.1 full-time equivalent per nurse. ”
The report said most changes to the skill mix – meaning the ratio of fully qualified to less qualified staff – are implemented well and led by evidence, but added: “It is important that quality and safety are at the forefront of any skill mix change. ”