A Southwark hospital trust has been hit by a London-wide nursing shortage with hundreds of vacant posts to be filled.
The South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust had just over a quarter of its nursing posts vacant in July last year, according to a freedom of information request put in by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
At the same time, King’s College Hosptial Trust had 653 nursing vacancies, sixteen percent of nursing posts, and Guy’s and St Thomas’s had 677 nursing vacancies, fourteen percent of all nursing posts.
RCN London said historic cuts to training places, plus an ongoing pay freeze imposed by the government, meant many London trusts were unable to find the permanent staff they need.
As trusts like SlaM try to fill hundreds of vacancies, they are forced to spend huge sums on temporary agency staff or recruiting overseas.
RCN London Regional Director Bernell Bussue said: “London faces a critical shortage of registered nursing staff.
“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.
“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.”
A spokesperson for SlaM said the trust had “significantly improved” its vacancy position over the last few months from 440 vacancies to 355.
“We have made significant inroads into the nursing vacancies and are on target with our recruitment strategy. We are recruiting to fill more vacancies than we were this time last year, as we are converting bank and agency posts into substantive roles, and actively recruiting in order to help us to maintain safe staffing levels. We are currently advertising and recruiting to 121 of our nursing vacancies.”
A spokeswoman for King’s pointed out that in November 2015, its nurse vacancy rate had improved to 13.6 per cent, down from July’s 16 per cent. She commented:?“In the last year, we have recruited more permanent nursing staff at our hospitals, and reduced the amount we spend on expensive agency staff. We aim to build on the progress we have made over the coming year.”
The News contacted Guy’s and St Thomas’s for a comment, but did not receive a response at the time of going to press.