NHS hit by chronic understaffing

LLB Reporter

Source: ©Photoshot

Barts Trust – the biggest hospital trust in the country – has 1732 staff vacancies

An ITV News Freedom of Information investigation has revealed chronic understaffing in NHS hospitals stretching across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, threatening closed wards and many cancelled operations

ITV News asked every Acute Trust in the country to disclose how many staff posts were vacant. Some hospitals reported over 1000 vacancies with the biggest gaps, at every Trust, in nursing. Other hospitals admitted some crucial roles had gone unfilled for years, despite repeated advertising.

In total 92 trusts responded to ITV News’ FOI request. The new figures underline the scale of the workforce crisis facing the NHS, after years of pay caps for staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Although hospitals can plug some of the gaps with agency staff, the current workforce crisis means its growing harder for them to meet demand and ensure patients are safe.

Earlier this year NHS trusts warned of a “breakdown” in workforce planning with fewer trained staff and more of them choosing to leave the profession.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt told ITV News: “We are rightly saying we want to have much higher standards of care after the tragedy of Mid Staffs, we cannot allow hospitals to skimp on nursing staff.. As a result of those changes we now have 15,000 more nurses in our hospital wards, 6,500 more doctors. But you can’t magic up doctors and nurses, they need to be trained, we’ve increased the number of doctors we’re training, we’ve made big reforms to nurse training”

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