• The Royal College of Physicians UK Consultant Census sheds further light on the urgent need for government to come forward with a fully funded comprehensive NHS workforce strategy.
  • New REAL Centre report highlights major shortfalls in the UK’s nursing workforce and issues with the process for how nurses are paid.
  • Reports fall on the same day that Jeremy Hunt MP tables an amendment to Clause 34 of the Health and Care Bill on workforce planning, with support from the Health Foundation and over 50 other health and care organisations. 

Professor James Buchan, senior visiting fellow at the Health Foundation, said:

‘Today’s RCP census results highlight once again that staff shortages in the NHS will increase if the government fails to take action now. 5.9 million people are already waiting for care and the health service desperately needs more staff. If the health and care system is to make real progress in overcoming the obstacles it faces in recovering services after COVID-19 it needs to be properly staffed, and a comprehensive fully funded workforce strategy is urgently needed.

‘With rising numbers of unfilled posts, and demand for staff outstripping supply, now is the time to establish systems for long term workforce planning that would help to avoid shortages in future. The Health Foundation is one of over 50 organisations supporting an amendment to the Health and Care Bill so that in future England has robust, independent projections of the health and social care staff the country will need. The Bill is a once in a generation opportunity to learn from past failures to help make shortages a thing of the past, and the Government must not turn a blind eye.’

A separate report, published today (16 November) by the Health Foundation’s REAL Centre, also highlights issues with the current process for deciding how much nurses are paid. With registered nurse FTE vacancies at 39,000 in June accounting for 42% of all vacancies in the NHS hospital and community service sector, the report highlights that pay is a powerful driver of nurse motivation and retention and should be considered a central aspect of strategic workforce planning. It questions whether the current NHS pay system remains fit for purpose and urges policymakers to ensure nurse pay is at the front and centre of policies to support the NHS’s post-COVID-19 recovery.

The report also highlights the vital role of the NHS Pay Review Body in providing independent evidence-based assessment of nurses’ pay and emphasises that its success relies on government fully accepting, funding and implementing its recommendations, which has not always been the case.

Notes to editors

Media contact

Simon Perry
020 7257 2093

Further reading


Nurses’ pay over the long term: what next?

November 2021

We examine long-term trends in UK nurses' pay and ask whether the system for deciding nurses’ pay...

REAL Centre


Building the NHS nursing workforce in England

December 2020

The current shortfall of nurses represents a major long-term and growing problem for the NHS. This...

REAL Centre

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