Health chief warns future of NHS integration risks being monopolised

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NHS staff shortages could triple in a decade, without a radical boost to recruitment efforts, major thinktanks have warned.

Following the publication of research from Nuffield Trust, King's Fund and Health Foundation - which indicates that unfilled vacancies across the National Health Service look set to skyrocket to 350,000 by 2030 - Michael Johnson-Ellis, Managing Director of Healthier Recruitment, has warned that Trusts must take a more strategic approach to workforce planning today to mitigate against future catastrophe.

Richard Murray, director of policy at the King's Fund, said: "Unless the NHS long-term plan is linked to a credible strategy for recruiting and retaining staff, there is a real risk that some of the extra funding pledged by the government will go unspent and waiting lists for treatment will continue to grow". It predicts an increase in NHS staff shortages from over 100,000 at present to nearly 250,000 by 2030.

Commenting on the current situation, Michael Johnson-Ellis, who has over 15 years' experience in NHS recruitment, said: "The scale of the staff shortfall which is predicted to hit the NHS in little over a decade has the potential to be catastrophic".

But if skilled workers cannot be attracted from overseas the shortage could reach 350,000 - roughly a quarter of the 1.2million workforce.

The estimate does not include staff working in primary care, such as Global Positioning System and practice nurses.

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The plan is being produced by health leaders, including NHS England, to decide how the £20.5bn of new funding a year by 2023-24 promised in the Budget will be used to improve services.

"If the emerging trend of staff leaving the workforce early continues and the pipeline of newly trained staff and worldwide recruits does not rise sufficiently, this number could be more than 350,000 by 2030", according to the briefing by the King's Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation.

Funding for education and training dropped from 5% of health spending in 2006 to 3% in 2018, the equivalent of a £2 billion drop.

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.

He added: "With more and more hospitals looking at restricting services, including closing A&E departments overnight and even shutting chemotherapy units, it's obvious the NHS is in the midst of a staffing crisis".

The NHS in England is already short of over 100,000 staff, including 10,000 doctors and 40,000 nurses, official figures show.

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