Intended for healthcare professionals


NHS staffing: the longest wait of all

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 09 November 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n2723
  1. Suzie Bailey, director of leadership and organisational development
  1. King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. S.Bailey{at}

The 2021 spending review fails to deal with the workforce crisis

The government has made many pledges, promises, and manifesto commitments on the NHS and social care and recently took an unexpected step of raising taxes to increase funding. But if you were hoping for anything that looked like multiyear workforce funding for the NHS in the 2021 autumn spending review1 you will have been disappointed.

Blink and you could well miss any reference to the biggest issue facing the NHS—the widely acknowledged crisis in the NHS workforce. After 20 months of responding valiantly to the covid-19 pandemic, dealing with high rate of infections, hospital admissions, and deaths, including among healthcare colleagues, surely the 1.3 million people working in the service deserved genuine assurance that their needs would be prioritised?

The Health Foundation2 estimates that by 2030-31, an extra 488 000 healthcare staff would be needed on current models of care to meet demand, including recovery from the pandemic. This is double the growth …

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