UK health service risks 350000 staff gap by 2030: thinktanks

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman says the Government needs to'step up the pace

The King's Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation said there was already a current shortage of more than 100,000 staff the National Health Service (NHS) and, based on current trends, the gap could reach nearly 250,000 by 2030.

"Although there has been much discussion centred around long-term solutions and the need to address the lack of national workforce planning through the highly anticipated workforce strategy, we now need more immediate actions to ensure staff feel valued, stay within the NHS and to ensure we can continue to recruit internationally following Brexit", she added.

Richard Murray, policy director at the King's Fund, said the NHS had less than a year to act or risk creating a downward spiral caused by "unbearable" working conditions.

Mr Murray said: 'They have very little time'.

"If you wait another 12 months the problem is just getting worse".

"Unless new NHS staff can quickly be recruited and trained, the NHS simply will not have the workers available to meet the demand for healthcare expected over the next decade".

The experts blame the situation on "an incoherent approach to workforce policy at a national level, poor workforce planning, restrictive immigration policies and inadequate funding for training places". The three think tanks argue that the interdependence of the two sectors means that any attempt to tackle one area must be accompanied by plans to address workforce problems in the other.

"Unless the government and system leaders take radical action and prioritise the NHS workforce, staffing shortages will more than double to nearly a quarter of a million by 2030". Although record numbers of young doctors are training to become Global Positioning System, "there are also some people leaving the profession in too large numbers, and moving from full-time to part-time", he said.

The report calls for better collaboration needed to deliver health and social care integration and although it notes "some progress" it describes the remaining challenges as significant.

"After years of government mismanagement, combined with the deepest financial squeeze in history, our NHS is now short of over 100,000 staff - including tens of thousands of doctors and nurses".

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "The NHS runs on the dedication of its workforce and ensuring we have the right staff in the right place is the only way we can guarantee the future of the health service".

"It brings together nearly £9 billion which was previously managed separately in Health Boards and Councils, and this year includes more than £550 million of NHS frontline investment to support integration and social care".

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