Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
25 July 2022

NHS workforce shortages may be even worse than official data suggests

The number of doctor vacancies may be 4,000 higher than thought and nursing vacancies 11,000 higher.

By Afiq Fitri

The NHS in England could be short of 12,000 hospital doctors and 50,000 nurses and midwives, according to research by the Nuffield Trust health think tank.

The latest statistics from NHS Digital, for March 2022, show that there were 8,016 reported vacancies for doctors and 38,972 for nurses. The Nuffield Trust’s higher estimate, prepared for a report by the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, uses fill-rate data provided by NHS England and NHS Improvement rather than reported vacancies. Not all posts are advertised because constraints on hospital budgets sometimes prevent hiring. 

The majority of vacant posts are filled by temporary staff. However, the NHS vacancy statistics also do not include short-term staffing gaps due to, for example, staff sickness. The MPs' report, published today (25 July), said that the NHS and the social care sector “are facing the greatest workforce crisis in their history”.

The government has made progress towards fulfilling its 2019 promise to increase the number of registered nurses in NHS England by 50,000 by 2024. The number of GPs, however, has continued to fall. Despite the Conservative pledge that there would be 6,000 more full-time equivalent GPs by 2024, in April there were 464 fewer qualified, permanent GPs than in March 2019 and 1,565 fewer than in September 2015.

The Health Foundation, a charity, has projected that based on current policies and trends, the shortage of full-time equivalent nurses, GPs and other primary care staff could peak at 180,000 by 2024-25.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

[See also: Why Keir Starmer has borrowed the Tories’ “magic money tree” attack line]

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action

Topics in this article : ,