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Nurse vacancies hit record high 47,000 in England

Latest figures show 20% jump from March to June, with RCN warning patients will bear the consequences and urging nurses to support strike action on pay
Image of rows of figures with half of them greyed out

Latest figures show 20% jump from March to June, with RCN warning patients will bear the consequences and urging nurses to support strike action on pay

Nursing shortages have reached record highs, with almost 47,000 vacancies in England at the end of June, new figures show.

Latest data from NHS Digital , published today, shows 46,828 full-time equivalent (FTE) registered nursing vacancies in June, a 20% jump from the 38,972 recorded in March.

London and the Midlands had the highest number of vacancies regionally, with 11,185 positions unfilled in London and 9,336 in the Midlands.

RCN reiterates call on government to pay nurses a fair wage

Latest figures show 20% jump from March to June, with RCN warning patients will bear the consequences and urging nurses to support strike action on pay

Image of rows of figures with half of them greyed out
Picture: iStock

Nursing shortages have reached record highs, with almost 47,000 vacancies in England at the end of June, new figures show.

Latest data from NHS Digital, published today, shows 46,828 full-time equivalent (FTE) registered nursing vacancies in June, a 20% jump from the 38,972 recorded in March.

London and the Midlands had the highest number of vacancies regionally, with 11,185 positions unfilled in London and 9,336 in the Midlands.

RCN reiterates call on government to pay nurses a fair wage to encourage staff retention

RCN chief executive Pat Cullen warned that patients would ‘pay a heavy price’ as more nurses leave the profession, once again calling on the government to pay nurses a fair wage to encourage retention.

‘Tens of thousands of experienced nurses left last year at the very moment we cannot afford to lose a single professional, and patients pay a heavy price,’ she said.

‘Nursing staff are burnt out and simply not valued by their employers and the government. Rather than leave a fantastic profession, I am telling members that the time has come to vote for strike action this year – it is the best way to now get politicians to listen and show what we mean when we say enough is enough.’

Nursing vacancies in England by region March 2022 June 2022 Rise
East of England 3,917 4,228 8%
London 9,494 11,185 18%
Midlands 7,797 9,336 20%
North East and Yorkshire 4,774 6,050 27%
North West 4,543 5,754 27%
South East 5,670 6,645 17%
South West 2,776 3,631 31%
Total 38,972 46,828 20%

The data also shows a stark picture across the NHS ,with around one in ten full time equivalent posts in the NHS in England vacant at the end of June, the highest proportion since current records began in 2018.

There were 132,139 full-time equivalent vacancies across the entire health service in June 2022, the highest since the previous peak of 111,864 at the end of June 2019, according to the figures.

NHS Providers says government failure on pay will make it harder to recruit workforce NHS needs

NHS Providers chief executive Saffron Cordery said a long-term plan for a ‘resilient workforce’ is now vital, adding that the situation could have been avoided had successive governments not failed to adequately train and recruit the workforce that the NHS needs.

She said: ‘The government’s failure to fully fund this year’s below-inflation pay awards, alongside ongoing concerns over punitive pension taxation for senior staff, will make it even harder to recruit and keep the health workers we so desperately need, which in turn will hugely impact on patients.’

A Health Foundation report in July warned the NHS in England could be facing an ‘apocalyptic’ shortage of 140,000 nurses by 2030. Meanwhile the number of nurses leaving the Nursing and Midwifery Council register also rose by 13% in the past year – with more than 25,000 coming off the register.

The Department of Health and Social Care said there were 9,600 more nurses working in the NHS compared with last year, but the total number of vacancies was increasing as it expands services to ‘bust’ COVID backlogs.

A spokesperson said: ‘We have also commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce plan to recruit and retain more NHS staff, and have launched a task force to drive up the recruitment of international staff into critical roles across the system this winter.’


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