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NHS in England marks 110,000 vacancies

NHS staff absences Covid

By Jess Hacker
3 March 2022

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The overall number of staff vacancies in England has topped 110,000, increasing by more than 20,000 across 2021.

According to NHS Digital, there were as many as 110,192 vacancies across the NHS in England as of December 2021.

It indicates that the number of empty roles in the NHS workforce has grown from 89,144 in the same month the year before.

The dataset, published today (3 March), collates figures from NHSE, NHS Jobs, Electronic Staff Record and Trac Recruitment Management Software.

Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive at the NHS Confederation, said there is ‘no escaping the fact’ that services are facing ‘chronic’ workforce shortages despite central efforts recruit and retain more staff.

He said: ‘For the NHS to fully recover from the pandemic, tackle its waiting lists and support its remaining staff, it needs the Government to provide adequate funding for a long-term and sustainable plan for workforce.’

The Government’s recently published elective recovery plan was widely criticised for lacking a workforce plan.

Retaining staff by engaging staff

Meanwhile, NHS managers have been advised to support staff with career development opportunities as a means of improving retention.

In new guidance for improving retention, NHS Employers suggested managers consider using internal transfers or rotational roles across an ICS as a means of helping staff acquire new skills.

It noted that what a person might want from their career may change over time, noting that approximately a third of the workforce in the NHS are in the late stages of their career.

It said: ‘Colleagues should be able to continually access development opportunities that meet their career aspirations, as well as be supported to think about how they can use their skills, experience and knowledge in different ways, recognising that some people often have the most challenging and exciting roles late on in their career.

‘Organisations should consider what flexible options and opportunities they can offer.’

Similarly, it said that supporting staff wellbeing should be considering as a means of ensuring staff stay at work for longer.

It advised that leaders make sure line managers recognise their role in supporting staff health and wellbeing, including signposting to available support.

This comes after a GP told MPs this week that medical students were ‘deciding against general practice’ after working among a ‘stressed and burnt-out workforce’.

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