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Staff shortages ‘clearly’ impacting care quality, says NHS leader

Staff shortages ‘clearly’ impacting care quality, says NHS leader

Health and care staff shortages are now ‘very clearly’ impacting care, an NHS leader has warned, as the Government again faces calls to strengthen workforce planning.        

Speaking at the health and social care committee hearing today on recruitment, Chris Hopson, NHS providers chief executive, said current workforce shortages are impacting care quality ‘despite the best frontline efforts’ and there are not ‘enough staff’ to recover the care backlog.        

Panellists also underlined their support for an amendment to the Health and Care Bill, which would require the Government to publish regular independent assessments of workforce numbers.

Mr Hopson said: ‘There’s a very direct link here between workforce shortages and the quality of care we’re able to provide… We’ve all been very clear that we simply cannot run the NHS effectively or efficiently unless we have a long-term workforce plan.’  

This comes as over 100 health and social care organisations including the RCN and Royal College of Midwifery are urging the House of Lords to support the amendment at the report stage next month.

Also speaking at the committee hearing, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, urged the House of Lords to back the amendment, which she said ‘is seeking to give us a roadmap and a plan for how we can address the workforce shortages in the future’.

She continued: ‘In healthcare we have suffered over the decades because we don’t have a robust, independent and transparent plan that we can all rely on.’

The Government has so far dismissed workforce planning, arguing that Framework 15 – which looks at the drivers of workforce supply – will ‘help to ensure’ the right numbers of staff are available.

But in a statement published on 22 February, the group of over 100 organisations also pointed out that Framework 15 was first published in 2014, last updated in 2017, and ‘yet there is no agreed, publicly available assessment of workforce numbers now nor into the future’.

They continued: ‘Without [the workforce planning amendment], the Bill will fail to address the biggest challenge facing the NHS and social care – staffing shortages and pressures.’

Last month, health and social care secretary Sajid Javid pledged to recruit 10,000 international nurses in England by April 2022 to help tackle the backlog. This came as part of a long-awaited elective recovery plan, although it drew criticism for not outlining a wider workforce plan.

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