Too few staff as NHS placed on ‘war footing’; why Ministers must act over recruitment crisis – The Yorkshire Post says

THE NHS ‘war footing’ status is reflected by the work underway to build a network of Nightingale hubs – including at a car park at St James’s Hospital in Leeds – to treat Covid patients as cases of the Omicron variant surge this New Year.

Yet the National Health Service does not have the staff required to provide care in these makeshift wards due to successive governments failing to train sufficient nurses, the original nightingales, and doctors – and then not valuing them by providing levels of pay to match their expertise and commitment.

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The consequence is 100,000 NHS vacancies at a time of crisis – a number exacerbated still further by around 18,000 medics in acute hospital trusts either being absent at any one time because of Covid-19 or the need to self-isolate.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid (left) speak with staff and patients during a visit to Leeds General Infirmary prior to the Tory party conference in Manchester in early October.

And all this is in addition to the 120,000 unfilled vacancies in social care when Ministers are hoping to utilise beds in care homes, hospices and hotels if necessary in order to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed.

Now the Home Office has accepted, to a degree, one folly of Brexit by deciding to expand the Health and Care Visa scheme – this means foreign care workers will now be eligible for fast-track UK visas.

But the recruitment – and training – of skilled staff takes time and there are only so many extra demands, like the rollout of booster jabs and creation of Nightingale hubs, that Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid, the Health and Social Care Staff, can place on NHS staff left badly fatigued by the pandemic and under-valued by Ministers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid (left) speak with staff and patients during a visit to Leeds General Infirmary prior to the Tory party conference in Manchester in early October.

And while The Yorkshire Post knows that all NHS staff and carers, both paid and unpaid, will continue to perform miracles over the New Year because of their professionalism, they must never be taken for granted, hence our call for Ministers to develop a far more comprehensive recruitment strategy as a matter of national urgency in 2022. Lives now depend on it.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid (left) speak with staff and patients during a visit to Leeds General Infirmary prior to the Tory party conference in Manchester in early October.