NHS Confederation responds to latest NHS workforce and GP appointment data

Dr Layla McCay, director of policy, and Ruth Rankine, director of primary care, respond to the latest statistics on NHS staffing and GP appointments.

26 May 2022

Responding to the latest statistics on the NHS workforce in England, Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said:

"Whilst these numbers show a small drop in NHS staff vacancies, healthcare leaders are concerned that chronic workforce shortages are seriously undermining efforts to recover from the pandemic and make significant strides into bringing down waiting lists for elective care.

"Staff are exhausted and burnt out and many are choosing to leave the NHS at a time when every staff member is so important to the service’s recovery. With 105,000 vacant posts, including 39,000 too few nurses and 8,000 doctors short, NHS leaders are asking the Government to urgently set out a national, fully funded workforce plan to fill these gaps and make sure the health service can continue to care for and meet the needs of its patients as safely and quickly as possible.

Responding to the latest statistics on GP appointments and the primary care workforce, Ruth Rankine, director of primary care at the NHS Confederation, said:

"Whilst coronavirus pressures may be easing, overall demand is increasing so it’s encouraging to see the level of activity in primary care being maintained month-on-month and over 50% more activity than two years ago.

"This has been made possible due to the sheer hard work of our primary care teams as well as significant progress in recruitment with over 18,200 new roles being filled in primary care, including clinical pharmacists, mental health practitioners, and social prescribers. These roles are enabling primary care to not only respond to ‘on-the-day’ demands but also to start to focus on tackling the wider determinants of ill-health and addressing increasing health inequalities.

“Establishing integrated neighbourhood teams, as recommended by Dr Claire Fuller, will help, but the workforce crisis across primary care remains unsustainable. GP numbers continue to fall and the Government is yet to set out how it will recruit the additional 6,000 roles that it had promised in its manifesto. As Claire’s report recommends, the need for a clear workforce strategy is long overdue."