NHS could face staff shortage of 250,000 by 2030

Workforce challenges now present a “greater threat” than funding shortfalls, according to new Nuffield Trust analysis


An analysis of the workforce challenges facing the NHS has highlighted that if current trends continue, the NHS could have close to 250,000 vacancies by 2030.

The healthcare workforce in England: make or break? highlighted that if the emerging trend of staff leaving the NHS workforce prematurely continues, and the number of newly trained staff and international recruits does not rise, this estimate increases to a staff shortfall of 350,000 over the same time span.

The briefing was published by Nuffield Trust in advance of the publication of the NHS long-term plan.

The document noted that there are currently 100,000 staff vacancies across NHS trusts.

It attributed current shortages to a range of factors including fragmentation of responsibility for workforce issues at a national level, poor workforce planning, funding cuts for training places, restrictive immigration policies and “worryingly high” numbers of doctors and nurses leaving their jobs early.

The briefing highlighted that staff shortages could result in NHS funding for front-line services going unspent.

“Even if commissioners have the resources to commission additional activity, health care providers may not have the staff to deliver it,” the document reads.

In conclusion, the briefing emphasised the need for the long-term plan and accompanying workforce strategy to address five key areas.

These were addressing workforce shortages in the short and long term, supporting new ways of working, tackling race and gender inequalities in pay and progression as well as strengthening workforce and service planning at all levels of the system.

The AOP has lodged a submission on the long-term plan, which can be viewed online