MP says patient care will suffer unless NHS staffing crisis is solved now

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

NHS staff work long hours, often in difficult circumstances, writes Sir Kevin Barron MP.

Yet despite their brilliant efforts, years of pay restraint and a failure by Government to invest in and plan appropriately for the workforce has resulted in more than 100,000 vacancies across the NHS, including 39,000 nurse vacancies.

I support legislating to ensure safe staffing levels, but the Government has repeatedly refused to do this.

I also believe reforms to higher education, including the abolition of the student nurse bursary, have failed.

Rather than investing in healthcare students and protecting their bursaries, students are now being asked to pay to train to work in the NHS.

The Royal College of Nursing recently confirmed that nursing degree applications have fallen by 30 per cent since the bursary was removed.

Independent health think tanks are warning that there will be a 250,000 shortfall of NHS staff by 2030.

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I am concerned that staff shortages are putting patient care at risk.

Without immediate action and investment from the Government, the NHS workforce crisis will only get worse.

If ministers are serious about tackling the workforce crisis, I believe they should bring forward a credible workforce plan, reinstate NHS bursaries, invest in nursing higher education, and legislate to ensure safe staffing levels.

More widely, I support investing £330 million in staff training and development to tackle the retention crisis and the introduction of a national Staff Wellbeing Strategy to support all staff.

This must include the establishment of board-level NHS Workforce Wellbeing Guardians in every local, regional and national NHS organisation.