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RCN worry over low vacancy rates

Low vacancy rates spell bad news for nurses, says the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The Information Centre yesterday published staff vacancy rates for nurses showing they have fallen every year for the past five.

Among social and healthcare positions, nursing had the lowest vacancy rate.

Just 0.5% of qualified nursing posts and 0.4% of unqualified positions remain vacant for three months or more, figures show.

Tim Straughan, acting chief executive of the Information Centre, says this is  "good news for patients" as "low vacancy rates are likely to contribute towards better continuity of care".

But General Secreatary of the RCN Dr Peter Carter said this was "not a good news story for nurses."

He believes that vacancy rates have only dropped due to "widespread freezing and deleting of posts by NHS Trusts desperate to balance the books."

He adds: "Thousands of newly-qualified nurses - coasting taxpayers millions of pounds to train - cannot find jobs this year at the same time the worload of nurses on the wards and in the community remains high.

"It is time for the government to put in place a long term workforce strategy that prevents the feast or famine characteristic of the NHS job market in recent years."

The Information Centre