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  1. ITV Report

'No coherent attempt' to understand staffing needs for seven-day NHS

  • By Patrick Russell: ITV News' Science and Health Producer

The government has made "no coherent attempt" to understand how many more staff they will need to deliver Jeremy Hunt's seven-day NHS, according to an influential group of MPs.

The government has been accused of making 'no coherent attempt' to understand staffing needs to deliver on Jeremy Hunt's seven-day NHS Credit: PA

The findings will be a blow to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who wants to plough ahead with plans for a seven-day health service. This remains at the heart of the the ongoing dispute between ministers and junior doctors.

The new report also concludes that supply of staff is not meeting demand in England's health service and this could jeopardise the quality of patient care.

In 2014 there was a shortfall of around 5.9% of clinical staff, this means around 50,000 clinical roles including nurses and doctors went unfilled.

Frontline staff such as doctors and nurses are the lifeblood of the service, yet the supply of these staff in England is not keeping pace with demand.

This poor workforce planning means patients face the possibility of longer waiting times and a greater cost to the public purse.

– Meg Hillier, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee

The MPs claim that in a drive to ease major financial pressures on the NHS hospitals have been forced to reduce staff to meet efficiency targets. This has resulted in the hospitals using more costly agency staff “thereby increasing the financial pressure on the NHS".

Jeremy Hunt wants to change the hours where junior doctors can claim premium rates of pay, turning 7am to 5pm on Saturday into a normal working day.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association, said: "This report further underlines the Government's failure to consider how it will staff and fund additional services when the NHS is struggling to provide existing services."

Junior Doctors protest against the imposition of the new contract Credit: PA

A Department of Health spokesman 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.

By 2020, we expect to have 11,420 more doctors working in the NHS, coupled with 10,000 nursing, midwife and allied health professional training places through our reforms.

By March next year, we will provide a quarter of the population with seven day care.

– Department of Health spokesman