Perfect storm buffets NHS recruitment, says Unite

‘Perfect storm’ buffets NHS recruitment, says Unite

25 July 2017

A perfect storm of pay austerity, Brexit and constant reorganisation has caused the ‘very disturbing’ rise in the number of vacancies in the NHS in England, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 25 July).

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, called on the Department of Health to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis facing the NHS, which could have an adverse impact on patient care.

Today’s NHS Vacancy Statistics England (February 2015 - March 2017) revealed that in March 2017 there were 30,613 advertised vacancy full-time equivalents published in England and this compares to 26,424 in 2016 and 26,406 in 2015.

Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said: “The NHS is faced with a perfect storm over recruitment, which is disclosed in the sharp and very disturbing rise in advertised vacancies in England.

“The three main factors that need to be urgently addressed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt are the harsh pay austerity regime; the impact of Brexit on the estimated 55,000 EU nationals working for the NHS; and the obsession with constant reorganisation, the latest being  the  44 controversial Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) in England.

“Since 2010, the majority of the NHS workforce has seen their pay packets eroded by at least 14 per cent in real terms – this needs to be addressed by Jeremy Hunt who needs to scrap the public sector pay cap, and by the independent Pay Review Body when it deliberates on its pay recommendation for 2018/19 which must be fully funded by central government without equivocation.

“The government’s failure, so far, to come to an agreement on EU nationals staying in a post-Brexit UK is leading to vital EU workers in the NHS to vote with their feet.

“The ever present, constant reorganisation of the NHS – the latest manifestation being the 44 STPs in England – is having a crushing effect on NHS morale, as well as being perceived as a fancy name for further cuts to services to the detriment of patient care.”

Unite said that the points it is making are being borne out by the early returns of a pay and conditions survey of its own membership – the full results of this survey will be available later this year.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.