Health bosses “need to get a better grip” on the supply of clinical staff to tackle current and future workplace shortages in the NHS, MPs have warned.
Parliament’s public affairs committee said the supply of staff was not meeting demand.
It said there was a 5.9%, or 50,000, shortfall of clinical staff in 2014. Shortages inhibited effective provision of services and could lead to shortcomings in care and longer waiting times, MPs said.
The committee’s report, Managing the supply of NHS clinical staff in England, published today said a focus on “unrealistic efficiency targets” saw staff cuts and bosses “consistently understating” the number of people they needed to provide services.
The committee, headed by Meg Hillier MP (pictured), called for “greater national leadership and co-ordinated support” to manage financial and staffing needs.
The committee said there was “no coherent attempt” to assess the number of staff needed for the seven-day NHS and no separate funding for it.
MPs said: “We are therefore far from convinced that the Department (of Health) has any assurance that the increase in funding will be sufficient to meet all of its policy objectives.”
A Department of Health (DH) spokeswoman said: “This report doesn’t properly take account of the dramatic workforce increases we have delivered, or our clear plans to increase capacity in the future in order to deliver a safer, seven-day NHS.”
The committee was also concerned about the cost of housing which affected the supply of permanent staff and said the DH should consider their accommodation needs.
The committee also criticised schemes to retain staff which were “not well managed”.
Although retaining staff was the cheapest and best way of ensuring the supply, it was not clear who was responsible nationally for controlling departure rates.
NHS bosses were hampered by insufficient data on why staff leave and where they take their skills, said the committee.
Shortages varied across the country, with GP training places harder to fill in the north and east.
NHS England told the committee it had commissioned a review of reasons why GPs are retiring early.
Health Education England said its current Commission and Investment plan aims to ensure there are more than 47,000 more nurses and a further 11,400 doctors by 2020 and it is spending nearly £500 million annually on GP training.