Report warns NHS staff shortages could triple by 2030

Three health think tanks have today issued advice to NHS England on the future workforce.

The briefing, entitled The health care workforce in England: make or break? draws on a new forecast of the staffing gaps emerging in the 1.2 million-strong NHS workforce. It predicts an increase in NHS staff shortages from over 100,000 at present to almost 250,000 by 2030, warning that this could mean that over one in six health service posts are short of an appropriate staff member by the end of the next decade.

The three organisations warn that these shortages could be over 350,000 if the NHS continues to lose staff and cannot attract skilled workers from abroad.

The briefing sets out five tests for the NHS Long Term Plan. These tests would require a ‘funded and credible strategy’ to:

  1. Address the immediate workforce shortages. Urgent measures are needed to address shortages in certain jobs and locations, such as radically boosting international recruitment in the aftermath of Brexit and improving staff retention.
  2. Deliver a sustainable workforce over the next 10 years. This will involve expanding training places and apprenticeships and will require the government to look into financial incentives to attract more nurses.
  3. Support new ways of working across the health and social care workforce. Including making better use of the skills of some existing staff– such as a far greater role for nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists in family doctors’ surgeries.
  4. Address inequalities in recruitment, pay and career progression. Tackling gender, race and other inequalities must be a key feature of national and local workforce strategies.
  5. Strengthen workforce and health service planning. This should involve a much more coherent and transparent approach to planning and strategy development.

Rob Yeldham, policy director at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said:

‘Having first contact physiotherapists working in GP practices means patients get timely access to expert assessments and advice. It is popular with patients, eases pressures on GPs and reduces referrals for test and acute care.

'Unlike some other health care professions physiotherapy is growing, with over 30% more physiotherapy students in training now compared to 2015/16. So we can develop into these new roles. However, we could see shortages unless European physios can continue to work in the UK after Brexit.

'Our ageing population means more people than ever are living with at least one long-term health condition so demand for physiotherapy is only set to grow. It is therefore imperative that we maintain the expansion of physiotherapy education in all four UK countries.’

For more information and to read this report in full, visit:

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