NHS staffing crisis: Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Trust's workforce numbers

The NHS is in crisis, with a shortage of doctors, nurses and midwives cripples the health service across England.

Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 3:37 pm

A recent report from a cross-party group of MPs led by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Government must tackle "the greatest workforce crisis in history in the NHS" as it deals with the aftereffects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The study by the Health and Social Care Committee criticised the absence of a long-term plan to address stalling recruitment and persistent short-staffing, adding that the NHS is currently in need of tens of thousands of workers.

We have taken a look at NHS figures for Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Trust to see how the workforce has changed in recent years, as the crisis across the country deepened.

A recent report said the Government must tackle "the greatest workforce crisis in history in the NHS"

Doctors

The latest figures from NHS Digital show there were the equivalent of 644 full-time doctors as of April at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

This was up from 623 last year and 535 in April 2016 – when comparable figures for all professions began – equating to a rise of 20% over the last six years.

Nationally, there were 128,000 FTE doctors in NHS trusts in April, up from 124,000 the year before and 104,000 in 2016.

But the workforce figures, which provide a snapshot overview, do not account for the number of health care workers who joined and left the NHS in between counts, nor do they indicate how staffing levels compare to demand for services.

The report by the Health and Social Care Committee said the NHS must still recruit a further 12,000 hospital doctors to address a current national shortfall.

The British Medical Association called on the Government to publish workforce projections, reduce medicine's gender pay gap and increase the supply of affordable childcare.

Emma Runswick, the BMA deputy chair of council, said: "If the Government continues to ignore this – or continued warnings from reports like this – the impact on health professionals, patients and the very health of our society does not bear thinking about."

Midwives

There are fewer midwives across the country than last year – the figures show there were the equivalent of 21,741 working full-time hours in April, down from 22,374 last year.

It comes as the MPs’ report says 2,000 more midwives are urgently needed to address staffing shortages.

At Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Trust there were 153 midwives in April – down from 164 last year.

The Royal College of Midwives said people are leaving the industry because "morale is shattered".

Suzanne Tyler, executive director at the RCM, said: "Employers and the Government must step up, put in the resources, and show they really value their staff."

Nurses and Health Visitors

The figures also show there were 1,381 nurses and health visitors at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Trust in April.

This is up from 1,380 last year but down from 1,431 at the start of the pandemic.

But the committee said there is a vast shortage of nurses nationally, with the NHS needing to urgently recruit more than 50,000 nurses and midwives.

In England, there were 319,000 FTE nurses and health visitors in April – up from 310,000 the year before and 285,000 in 2016.

The Royal College of Nursing said persistent understaffing "poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety" and urged the Government to take immediate action.

Patricia Marquis, director of the RCN, said the report, which highlighted unacceptable pay for some NHS nurses who are struggling to feed their families and pay their rent, "should make the Government rethink the latest pay deal that follows a decade of real terms pay cuts".

Sickness Rates

Understaffing is not the only issue facing the NHS workforce.

Different NHS Digital figures show trusts are still grappling with staff sickness, as the absence rate across all roles nationally rose to six per cent in March – the fourth highest month since the pandemic began and well above pre-pandemic levels of 4.1 per cent in March 2019.

At Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Trust, 8.4 per cent of full-time staff days were lost due to sickness absence in March.

In March 2019, the rate stood at four per cent.

The RCN said that the high absence figures were "yet more evidence of the need for drastic action and investment in the nursing workforce".

Vacancies

NHS vacancies have also increased more in the year to March than any 12-month period since records began in 2018.

Separate data reveals the NHS had 106,000 FTE vacancies at the end of March, up from 76,000 the year prior.

These include almost 39,000 nursing vacancies, over 4,000 more than 12 months ago.

In the Midlands, there were 20,486 total vacancies as of 31 March – up from 15,441 a year earlier – including 7,797 for nurses.

What the Government has said

A spokesman for The Department of Health and Social Care said it has commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce plan to look at addressing the issue.

The spokesperson went on to say: "We are growing the health and social care workforce, with over 4,000 more doctors, and 9,600 more nurses compared to last year, and over 1,400 more doctors in general practice compared to March 2019.

"As we continue to deliver on our commitment to recruit 50,000 more nurses by 2024, we are also running a £95 million recruitment drive for maternity services."

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Dominic Brown, editor.