According to a leaked copy of the government's long-awaited plan to cope with the downsizing, the NHS could miss nearly 70,000 nurses within five years.

Blocking the government's decision to abolish scholarships for nursing students, a draft NHS staff plan states: "Our analysis shows a deficit of 40,000 (11%) [in the number of nurses needed in England] in 2018-2019, this number will rise to 68,500 (16%) by 2023-2020 without intervention, with the demand for nurses increasing faster than the supply. "

This would mean that the shortage of NHS nurses will increase from one in nine to one in six, putting additional pressure on hospitals, GPs and mental health care.

The report, seen by the Observerclearly indicates that the shortage may even exceed 68,500 because of "additional pressures" on physician offices, which should assume greater responsibility for patient care over the coming years under the plan. long-term NHS.

The paper adds that even if its recommendations are fully implemented, the health service will be short of 38,800 nurses by 2023-2024, almost as much as the 40,000 currently vacant. He says, "We believe we can narrow the gap between supply and demand to 38,800 (10%) in 2023-2024, assuming we can progress on all the interventions described in this chapter."

The workforce strategy was developed by senior NHS executives led by Baroness Harding, conservative counterpart who chairs the regulator, NHS Improvement. Ministers hope health services in England will find ways to cope with the growing workload as it faces more than 100,000 job vacancies, including general practitioners, nurses, paramedics and psychiatrists . Shortages of almost all types of health professionals result in the temporary or permanent closure of units providing A & E care, maternity services and chemotherapy.

According to the plan, George Osborne's decision in 2015, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, to stop paying tuition and maintenance grants for nursing students resulted in a huge drop in the number of candidates for the nursing post, while the NHS is facing its most debilitating problems. their scarcity for decades.

"Applications for nursing and midwifery courses have declined since the reform of education funding, with a 31% drop between 2016 and 2018." It is said that the decline has affected all branches of nursing Well, nursing since 2016 is particularly severe. This also resulted in a "significant" drop in the number of adult students (39%) and men (40%) who applied.

Osborne was warned that his decision was going to turn against him, but insisted that removing the long-standing funding for nursing students would increase the number of participants and push them forward anyway. Until 2016, all UK nursing graduates had fully paid their tuition fees and received a means-tested living allowance of up to £ 3,191. In contrast, the number of nursing students has increased in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which has kept these incentives.

The removal of scholarships has proven very detrimental and they should be reinstated, said the Royal College of Nursing – a suggestion that the document did not address. "Already facing a serious shortage of staff, ministers have compounded the problem by removing the carpet to tomorrow's nurses. The false economy of withdrawing this scholarship slowly became aware of the ministers and the NHS. If they want to end the shortage of nurses, there is no choice but to return the £ 1 billion that was stolen from them, "said Donna Kinnair. , Director General of the MRC.

George Osborne

George Osborne visits London's Homerton Hospital when he was Chancellor in 2014. Photograph: Luke MacGregor / PA

"Nothing is more devastating for a nurse than not being able to provide quality patient care. But in this time of severe shortage, nurses are forced to rush through difficult conversations or give drugs later than necessary. Although they stay free after a long period of work, they still can not do everything and important things can be missed. "

The report also warns that the government's plans to increase the number of locally trained doctors by 1,500 are inadequate and that a much larger increase is needed. "We believe that we need a new initial expansion of 1,000 to 1,500 new undergraduate medical centers, but we will clearly need to keep this issue under review," he says.

The ministers announced in 2017 that the number of training places in medical schools would be increased by 1,500, which would create the largest increase of doctors ever trained in the UK. But the first of them will not be ready to work until 2025 and the health service is struggling with more than 9,000 vacancies for doctors.

The document, called the Interim NHS Plan, was delayed because of tensions between its authors and the Treasury. The ministers of this state are unhappy that the government is committed to organizing a "review" of pension rules, which would encourage doctors to reduce the workload they perform. for the NHS or to retire earlier.

"The pressures of the workforce are a fundamental threat to the future viability of the NHS. Front-line trusts warn of this growing problem for years, "said Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, who represents health trusts. "We are finally starting to see a coherent and coordinated approach that acknowledges the urgency of these challenges and presents practical advances, particularly to address the issues we face with regard to nursing shortages. It's just a start, but it's a good one. "