MORE than 86,000 NHS posts were vacant between January 2017 and March 2017, figures for the NHS in England suggest.
Today’s NHS Vacancy Statistics England (February 2015 – March 2017) revealed that in March 2017 there were 30,613 advertised vacancy full-time equivalents published in England and this compares to 26,424 in 2016 and 26,406 in 2015.
Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said: ‘The NHS is faced with a perfect storm over recruitment, which is disclosed in the sharp and very disturbing rise in advertised vacancies in England.
‘The three main factors that need to be urgently addressed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt are the harsh pay austerity regime; the impact of Brexit on the estimated 55,000 EU nationals working for the NHS; and the obsession with constant reorganisation, the latest being the 44 controversial Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) in England.
‘Since 2010, the majority of the NHS workforce has seen their pay packets eroded by at least 14 per cent in real terms – this needs to be addressed by Jeremy Hunt who needs to scrap the public sector pay cap, and by the independent Pay Review Body when it deliberates on its pay recommendation for 2018/19 which must be fully funded by central government without equivocation.
‘The government’s failure, so far, to come to an agreement on EU nationals staying in a post-Brexit UK is leading to vital EU workers in the NHS voting with their feet. The ever present, constant reorganisation of the NHS – the latest manifestation being the 44 STPs in England – is having a crushing effect on NHS morale, as well as being perceived as a fancy name for further cuts to services to the detriment of patient care.’
Unite said that these points are borne out by the early returns of a pay and conditions survey of its own membership – the full results of this survey will be available later this year.
The GMB union says poor pay and increased workload are hurting the health service as vacancies have rocketed 30 per cent in just two years.
The number of nurses and health visitors plummeted by 1,049 in just one month from March to April this year. Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘This is a double whammy of bad news for nursing. At the very moment the NHS needs to be recruiting more nursing staff, we learn the number is falling and the NHS finds itself advertising for more jobs we know it cannot fill.
‘The true number of unfilled jobs is far higher than the number of online adverts and stands at 40,000 in England alone. More people are leaving nursing than joining – deterred by low pay, relentless pressure and new training costs. For the sake of patient safety, the Chancellor must scrap the cap on pay and help to fill the tens of thousands of vacant nurse jobs.
‘The government is holding pay below inflation and inflicting a real terms pay cut worth £3,000 per year. Too many now feel no alternative but to leave nursing.’