Tackling the nursing shortage

The Open University | May 2018 | The Open University: Tackling the nursing shortage

Tackling the nursing shortage, the  new publication from The Open University considers the financial impact of temporary staffing to address the shortage, which the report describes this as “an expensive, short-term approach to plugging the gaps – [as] it costs the NHS nearly £1.5 billion a year.”  It also outlines many of the factors driving the shortage, suggesting that new routes into the profession, like apprenticeships, can help to plug the gap and future-proof the nursing workforce in the long-term (Open University).

The Open University
Image source: open.ac.uk

Using data obtained by The Open University under the Freedom of Information Act, the report calculates that if the hours  currently worked by temporary staff were instead covered by permanent nurses, the NHS could save as much as £560 million a year. This funding could otherwise be used to pay for continuing professional development or improved services.  

The report can be downloaded from The Open University 

In the media:

The Telegraph Nurse shortages cost the NHS up to £2.4 billion last year

The Independent NHS spending £1.5bn a year on temporary nurses as staff leave in droves, study reveals

King’s Fund: NHS spending on drugs has grown at a rate of 5 per cent every year since 2010/11

The King’s Fund |April 2018 | Rising spend on NHS medicines could jeopardise patients’ access to drugs, warns The King’s Fund 

In  2016/17, NHS spending on drugs was £17.4 billion compared to £13 billion in 2010/11- an average growth of around 5 per cent a year, however within the same period the NHS budget grew by an average of 1 per cent a year. A new report from The King’s Fund highlights how the spending on drugs has outpaced the NHS budget.

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According to accompanying press release, much of the increase in spending has been in hospitals, which now account for nearly 50 per cent of the total amount the NHS spends on medicines, with costs having grown by around 12 per cent a year since 2010/11.

Spending in primary care has decreased due to the encouragement of generic, rather than branded drugs leading to reductions of nearly a quarter in the average costs per item.

The full release can be read at The King’s Fund

The report The rising cost of medicines to the NHS is available here 

The Prioritisation Framework: making the most of your budget

A flexible tool to support local authorities make transparent, evidence-based spending decisions across public health programmes | Public Health England

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Local public health teams are facing increasingly complex and challenging decisions over what services to invest in and disinvest from. The Prioritisation Framework is designed to help local authorities conduct a systematic prioritisation exercise, by greatly reducing the burden and complexity of the task.

The approach is based on Multi Criteria Decision Analysis, a recognised decision support technique which has been successfully used in a variety of contexts.

Throughout the tool users are provided with extensive guidance and links to other relevant resources. A supporting materials pack is available from the PHE Health Economics team at healtheconomics@phe.gov.uk.

How is the NHS performing?

This report aims to take stock of what has happened within the NHS over the past quarter. 

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The report finds that more patients are facing long waits for hospital treatment, with those experiencing the longest waits often most in need of treatment. With demand for services continuing to rise, the authors suggest it is very unlikely that meeting waiting time targets will become more achievable.

The report also finds that:

  • nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of finance directors felt that patient care has worsened in their local area in the past year. Just 4 per cent said it had improved
  • more than half (52 per cent) of trust finance directors said they expected their organisation to end 2017/18 in deficit. A third (32 per cent) were fairly or very concerned about meeting financial targets agreed with national NHS bodies
  • demand for services continues to soar – admissions from A&E jumped by 6.8 per cent in January 2018 compared to January 2017, reaching 389,649
  • more positively, progress on reducing delayed discharges from hospitals has continued to improve, with 145,3180 total days delayed in December 2017, the lowest total since September 2015.

Full report: How is the NHS performing? March 2018 quarterly monitoring report

See also: