Think tanks warn that the NHS could face a staff shortage of 350,000 staff by 2030

Report from three leading UK think tanks points out potential staff shortages the NHS could face in the next 15 years

The NHS could be 350,000 staff short of the number it needs to meet continuing demand by the end of 2030, according to a workforce analysis by three leading think tanks – the King’s Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation.

The gap between the number of staff available and the number needed in the next 15 years is predicted to reach at least 250,000. The report warns that this number could increase by another 100,000 because of the impact of Brexit, a lack of newly trained staff and increasing numbers of existing staff quitting the NHS.

The report, published on 15 November 2018, says: “The workforce challenges in the NHS in England now present a greater threat to health services than the funding challenges.”

It also states that the forthcoming NHS plan detailing its long-term vision for the health service — expected to be published in December 2018, “must be clearly linked to a strategy to address the workforce crisis, otherwise it will simply be a wish list rather than a credible path to a sustainable future for the health service”.

Suggestions include introducing new ways of working by existing as part of the workforce solution.

It highlights the potential of pharmacists who can carry out medications reviews and the management of some patients with long-term conditions. But it accuses the NHS of struggling “to make full use of the capabilities of its staff and new technologies, and progress is far, far too slow”.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) backed the suggestion that pharmacists to help address workforce shortages and could also help keep people out of hospitals says Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the PSNC.

Buxton said in a statement issued in response to the analysis: “As pressure on the NHS workforce increases, it is more important than ever that we make best use of community pharmacies.

“There is much more that they could do to help keep people healthy and out of hospitals, in particular by caring for people with long-term conditions, being the first port of call for healthcare advice and acting as health and wellbeing hubs.”

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