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Health & social care online job adverts up 20% year-on-year as 1 in 11 NHS posts remain vacant

Following the announcement of the Government’s 10-year Plan for the NHS in early January, many commentators expressed concern that the proposals fail to tackle workforce pressures. Commenting on the proposals, Dean Royles, president-elect of the Healthcare People Management Association, noted: “The NHS long-term plan is a step forward from the five-year forward view, which barely mentioned workforce at all…It is bizarre that a workforce strategy will follow later. The way we recruit, retain, lead and deploy staff is the very essence of a long-term service plan, not an appendix to it.” 1

With a reported 100k open vacancies across the NHS – one in eleven of all posts – advertising rates have soared. In November 2018, the aggregated data captured by Innovantage evidenced that, whilst there was just a 3% increase in the number of official vacancies, there was a 20% year-on-year increase in the number of original job ads posted across the health and social care sector – suggesting a tightening of availability of workers. This included a 25% increase in the number of original ads for roles in social care, a 29% increase in ads for doctors, 19% more ads for social workers and 31% more for roles in A&E.  

Profile of official job vacancies (ONS: Sept-Nov 2018) and online advertising (Innovantage: Nov 2018)

Sources: ONS and

In relation the potential exposure of the NHS to future workforce restrictions (due to a change in immigration policy), as at June 2018, 144,074 staff reported a non-British nationality. This was 12.7% of all NHS staff for whom nationality was known.

Of this number, 63,000 were nationals of other EU Countries. Nationally, this included 10% of all hospital doctors and 7% of nurses and midwives. Furthermore, 12% of doctors and 6% of nurses reported an Asian nationality.

Regionally, the variations in the level of dependency on non-UK nationals are stark:

NHS Staff, by nationality group, June 2018

Source: House of Commons Library

This status followed a 2+ year period in which the introduction of language testing for EU nurses (January 2016) and the EU Referendum (June 2016) started to have a notable impact on the number of nurse joiners and leavers. In 2015/16, 19% of nurse joiners were of EU nationality, while in 2017/18 this fell to 7.9%. Meanwhile, the percentage of nurse leavers with an EU nationality rose from 8.9% to 12.8%. The NHS currently has 42,000 open nurse vacancies.

Nurse joiners and leavers, by nationality, 2012/13 to 2017/18

Source: House of Commons Library


1. HR Magazine – May’s ‘long-term plan’ for NHS: HR community reacts, Jan 8th 2018