Rise in nurse workforce failing to keep up with spiralling demand

An investigation by Health Foundation has revealed the number of nurses has increased by 1%, in contrast to a 23% rise in health service output, between 2010/11 and 2016/17.

It found that the number of nurses has gone up by 0.2% a year on average, whilst the amount of health service activity increased by 3.5% a year on average.

Health Foundation, an independent healthcare charity in the UK, published a graph showing the stark difference (see below).

health foundation graph

Health Foundation graph

The number of nurses has risen by 1% since 2010/11, but health service activity has increased by 23%

The think tank warned that the disparity between the growth in staff versus the amount being done in the health service meant increased workload and pressure on nurses.

Senior economics analyst at the charity, Ben Gershlick, said: “The figures show that the steep growth in the amount of care being delivered by the health service this decade has not been matched by an adequate increase in the number of nurses.

“The inevitable result of this divergence is increased pressure and mounting nurse workloads,” he said.

”In the short-term, we can expect to see this pressure on staff continue as our projections suggest that the NHS won’t be able to close the gap between demand and supply for nurses by 2023/24,” he added.

Mr Gershlick warned that the findings presented a threat to the future sustainability of the health service.

“Without significant policy action to train and keep more nurses in the NHS, vacancies could rise to over 100,00 in the next ten years,” he said.

The figures come after NHS staff were praised for productivity in the health service, which new research found had increased at more than double the rate of the wider economy.