Hospital Dr News

One in 11 posts in NHS England are currently unfilled, official figures reveal

The NHS is suffering from high staff vacancy rates and a growing deficit, official NHS performance figures reveal.

One in 11 posts in NHS England are currently unfilled, equivalent to almost 100,000 vacancies.

NHS Improvement’s quarterly performance report – for the three months ending 31 December – shows a high number of unfilled posts has coincided with the NHS coming under immense pressure, with 250,000 more people visiting A&E than in the equivalent three-month period in 2016.

NHS providers reported a year-to-date deficit of £1.3bn, moving NHS Improvement to revise its estimate of the year-end deficit to £931m, 88% worse than planned.

In nursing, 10.3% of posts are unfilled. There were at least 35,835 full-time equivalent nursing posts vacant, of which 35% were filled by agency staff and 65% by bank staff.

The RCN warned that a key problem with the Mid Staffs scandal was shortages in nursing care.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, commented: “These figures paint an extremely worrying picture, with NHS performance in decline in several key areas. Waiting times targets are not being met, the deficit is much greater than anticipated and there are significant staff shortages.

“It is clear from these figures that the health service just doesn’t have the resource nor capacity to meet rising demand. Without the necessary investment in staff and services the NHS will continue to struggle to meet demand, and current staff will be stretched even more thinly, compounding recruitment and retention problems.

“These figures must act as a wake-up call to the government. The NHS urgently needs greater funding to halt the decline and put the health service on a sustainable footing for the future.”

A&E waiting time performance for December was 85.1%, below the previous month (88.8%) and 1.1% lower than the same time last year (86.2%).

And, demand for emergency care and high levels of bed occupancy have impacted providers’ ability to perform elective work.

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