THE current shortage of nurses could continue beyond 2020 unless hospitals reduce demand for services, the body responsible for training NHS staff warned yesterday.
Health Education England (HEE) confirmed that it would not be able to supply the NHS with enough nurses if trusts do not cut the number of patients being admitted.
A failure to do so will leave hospitals continuing to struggle to fill vacancies every year up to 2020 and beyond, the HEE said.
The non-departmental body of the Department of Health has committed to closing the gap between the supply and demand of nurses in the NHS Five Year Forward View plan.
Health Emergency campaign group director John Lister told the Star that nursing shortages were a “perfectly avoidable storm” made worse by the Tory government’s own actions.
He pointed out that when the Con-Dem coalition government imposed £20 billion in cuts on the NHS in 2011, tens of thousands of staff including nurses left the service.
Mr Lister warned that fewer people want to work in nursing as wages have been frozen since 2009 and the government has scrapped student bursaries that encouraged people to join the profession.
He called the HEE a “totally impotent” body that is now passing the buck onto trusts, which could be forced to make further cuts.
Shadow health secretary Diane Abbott said: “These revelations are an outrage.
“The Tory government’s failure to deal with the nursing shortage in our NHS is putting patients at risk.
“We have an ageing population and a health and social care sector that’s been decimated by cuts.
“By any measure, the Tories’ approach is a false economy.”
The Royal College of Nursing has called on the government to secure the future of EU nurses following the Brexit vote to ensure that the staffing crisis does not grow worse.