London faces 'critical' shortage of nurses

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Media captionLondon faces 'critical' shortage of London nurses

London is facing a "critical" shortage of nurses, with more than 8,000 posts vacant, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

About 14% of nursing posts in the capital are unfilled, up from 11% a year ago, the RCN said.

Most London hospital trusts have increased the number of nursing posts, with 2,500 more jobs compared with 2013.

NHS England said steps were being taken to "help meet future demand".

There are now about 1,000 more nurses working in London's NHS compared with 2013, the RCN London Safe Staffing Report 2014 said.

But in "many cases it seems employers are unable to find enough staff to fill the new posts", the RCN said.

'Inescapable link'

RCN London is calling for system-wide action to ensure London employers are able to recruit enough nurses to keep staffing numbers at the level they believe is needed to keep patients safe.

Director of the RCN for London Bernell Bussue said: "An inescapable link is now established between staffing levels, skill mix and patient safety, and the number of nursing posts across London has increased sharply this year.

"However, London still suffers from a critical shortage of nurses and only 40% of the new posts have been filled."

An NHS England spokeswoman said: "We are working closely with Health Education England and Trusts to ensure that adequate numbers are recruited into nurse education places at universities, which will help us meet future demand.

"We are also actively working to attract nurses who have left the profession to return to the health service through additional return to practice courses."

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