Healthcare think-tank the Health Foundation has released a new report into the ability of the NHS to retain staff. This report covers 2018, and follows similar reports in the two preceding years.
The warning comes as NHS England is planning a significant expansion of primary care as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. The response to the plan has been largely positive, but numerous stakeholders have questioned whether the NHS has the staff capacity to implement it, with existing NHS vacancies already exceeding 90,000 per quarter.
The report notes pressure in core areas like nursing, with numbers rising only 0.5%, leaving 41,000 nursing places vacant, equivalent to 10% of total nursing places. The number of fully qualified non-locum GPs has also fallen 1.6%, and the number of community nurses is down by 1.2%. These figures are based on raw data, and take no account of rising service demand.
The report suggests that there is already some limited expansion in community health staffing, but it remains to be seen if this is a result of service transformation, or simply the need to mitigate shortages of other healthcare professionals.
The Foundation also raises worrying long-term signals, noting a fall in applications for nursing places, and that the downward trend in NHS retention rates continues.
The full report can be read here.