PERSISTENT understaffing in the NHS is creating a serious risk to patient safety, MPs have said in a damning new report.
The cross-party health and social care committee said that services in England face “the greatest workforce crisis in their history” and the government has no credible strategy to make the situation better.
The report, researched by the Nuffield Trust, shows the NHS in England is short of 12,000 hospital doctors and more than 50,000 nurses and midwives, while the number of full-time equivalent GPs also fell by more than 700 over three years to March 2022.
Projections suggest that an extra 475,000 jobs will be needed in health and an extra 490,000 jobs in social care by the early part of the next decade.
The committee’s report said: “The persistent understaffing of the NHS now poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety both for routine and emergency care.
“But most depressing for many on the front line is the absence of any credible strategy to address it.”
Committee chairman and Tory MP Jeremy Hunt said: “We now face the greatest workforce crisis in history in the NHS and in social care with still no idea of the number of additional doctors, nurses and other professionals we actually need.
“NHS professionals know there is no silver bullet to solve this problem but we should at least be giving them comfort that a plan is in place. This must be a top priority for the new prime minister.”
The report said that almost every part of the NHS was suffering staff shortages.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The staffing crisis in the NHS and social care grows worse by the day as employees leave for fairer wages on the high street and elsewhere.
“Rishi Sunak says tackling the NHS backlog is the UK’s biggest public services emergency. But this won’t happen without proper investment in the NHS and social care workforce. That must begin with a decent pay rise for all staff.”
Royal College of Nursing director for England Patricia Marquis said: “That persistent understaffing in all care settings poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety should shock ministers into action.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce plan to recruit and support NHS staff while they deliver high quality, safe care to patients and help to bust the Covid backlogs.”