Nurse vacancies across England remain 'stubbornly high' – Nursing Times

‘This is a situation that cannot go on indefinitely’
04 March, 2022 By
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Nurse vacancies across the NHS in England are up 9% in a year period, with every region across the country recording an increase once again, new data has revealed.
Meanwhile, mental health nurse shortages have worsened by a concerning 35% over the course of 12 months.
Latest workforce statistics published by NHS Digital this week show the number of registered nurse vacancies stood at 39,652 as of December 2021.
While this was a small decrease on the previous dataset from September 2021 (-0.6%), this was a 9% increase on the year before in December 2020.
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Each region across England once again saw a rise in nurse vacancies over the course of a year, while London continues to have the highest number of nurse gaps with more than 9,500 empty posts.
The East, South West and London all saw a 14% rise in the number of nurse vacancies from December 2020 to December 2021.
Meanwhile, the North East recorded the highest increase at 16% over the same time period.
The North West saw a 5% rise in nurse vacancies in the same year, while the Midlands recorded a 4% increase and the South East 2%.
Concerningly, when broken down into specialties, the data showed mental health nurse shortages have worsened by 35% from December 2020 to December 2021 – from 8,899 vacancies to 11,341.
In addition, community nurse vacancies have jumped 29% in the same period – from 1,512 to 1,956.
The number of acute nurse and specialist nurse vacancies remained relatively static with more than 25,400 and 790 empty posts recorded respectively.
“The fact that nursing vacancies remain stubbornly high is deeply worrying”
Patricia Marquis
Responding to the data, Royal College of Nursing director for England, Patricia Marquis, said: “The fact that nursing vacancies remain stubbornly high, at around 40,000 in the NHS in England, is deeply worrying.
“With every job that remains unfilled, safe patient care becomes even harder to maintain.”
She reiterated concerns that staff were “exhausted and demoralised after two years of the pandemic and many are considering leaving the profession”.
Once again, Ms Marquis urged the government to take action and “address the nursing workforce crisis urgently”.

Patricia Marquis
Across the whole of the NHS in England, the data showed the number of staff vacancies has topped 110,000 for the first time – an increase of more than 21,000 on the year before.
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said there was “no escaping the fact that services are facing chronic workforce shortages, which are getting worse”.
“These pressures are felt right across the NHS with the biggest gaps seen in nursing, particularly in acute and mental health posts,” he added.
Mr Mortimer also called on the government to act and to “provide adequate funding for a long-term and sustainable plan for workforce”.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson added: “NHS staff are working incredibly hard to save lives and support patients day in and day out, and we are hugely grateful for everything they do.”
They reiterated that the department had recently comissioned NHS England to develop a “long-term workforce strategy”, and said the conclusions of this would be set out in due course.
On Thursday, an amendment to the incoming Health and Social Care Bill that seeks to improve workforce planning was voted through by the House of Lords, but now needs to pass in the House of Commons.
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