NHS Trusts in the capital are dealing with a major shortage of nurses according to a figures obtained by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) London.
It says the London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs hospitals and services in Brent, Ealing and Harrow, has a vacancy rate of 30%.
Hounslow and Richmond Community Health NHS Trust (25%) and West London Mental Health NHS Trust (22%), which cares for children and adults with mental health illnesses or issues in Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham and Hounslow, also features highly on its vacancies list.
In total there are 10,000 nursing posts unfilled in the capital, the RCN London said.
It obtained the figures, which show nursing employment levels for July last year, through Freedom of Information requests to each NHS Trust.
The total is equivalent to 17% of all London’s registered nursing posts in 2015 – up from 14% in London in 2014 and 11% in 2013, and above the national average of 10%.
RCN London said that historic cuts to training places, plus the ongoing pay freeze imposed by the government, meant many London trusts were unable to find as many permanent staff as they need.
The shortage means employers are having to choose between putting patients at risk by running wards short of staff, or turning to expensive solutions like temporary agency staff or recruiting overseas, it said.
|NHS Trust||Full-time vacancies July (2015)||Nursing vacancy rate %|
|London North West Healthcare NHS Trust||811||30|
|Hounslow and Richmond Community Health NHS Trust||79||25|
|West London Mental Health NHS Trust||242||22|
|Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||227||17|
|Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust||573||15|
|Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust||197||14|
|Hillingdon Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||114||14|
|Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust||130||11|
|West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust*||56||9|
* Trust taken over by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in September 2015
RCN London regional director Bernell Bussue said: “London faces a critical shortage of registered nursing staff. This new research shows 10,000 vacant nursing posts in London, a rate of around 17%. London needs more nurses.
“The problem is partly down to shortsighted workforce planning which saw training posts cut in the past, meaning there aren’t enough home grown nurses coming through the system.
“Most importantly, the ongoing pay freeze imposed by the government means that nursing staff increasingly just can’t afford to live and work in London. Pay has run 10% below inflation since 2010.
"The government urgently needs to give nursing staff a pay rise at a level which helps them settle in the capital for the long term, before staffing shortages start to damage the quality of care which London’s patients receive.”
But a Department of Health spokesperson said it did not recognise the RCN London figures. She said: “Official statistics show that Londoners have already benefited from 3,400 additional nurses since May 2010 and this is down to continued government investment in the frontline.
“We have 50,000 nurses in training and our recent changes to student funding will mean up to 10,000 more training places across the country by 2020."
A spokesperson for NHS England (London) said a cap on charges for agency staff was introduced in November, meaning the subsequent reduction in agency spend was not reflected in the RCN London’s data.
She added it was looking at ways to recruit new and returning nurses and retain those they already have.