Tuesday 23 March 2021 / 10:30 PM Health / Justin Madders

Labour will warn of future exodus of health workforce without pay rise for NHS staff

Labour will highlight the shocking numbers of healthcare staff leaving the profession, as they continue their efforts to secure a pay rise for NHS staff.

In a Westminster Hall debate on NHS Pay, Labour will warn that a pay rise for NHS staff is urgent to avoid staff leaving after the pandemic. Labour will highlight the shocking numbers of healthcare staff leaving their roles for better pay, conditions, and work life balance in recent years.

Data on NHS staff leaving their roles in 2018/19 and 2019/20 (provided as a result of a written parliamentary question) and compared to figures for 2010/11 (published by NHS Digital) reveal a stark increase in numbers leaving the NHS due to early retirement, health reasons, work/life balance, and because they could get a better reward package elsewhere.

Comparable data for the duration of the pandemic is not available, but Labour will warn that without a pay rise for NHS staff, there could be an exodus from the health service in future.

The data obtained by Labour shows:

  • The total number of nurses and health visitors leaving the NHS in 2019/20 was 31,587 – up 50 per cent on the number who left in 2010/11.
  • 3,013 nurses and health visitors resigned from the NHS due to work/life balance in 2019/20, the highest level in the last 10 years and 9 per cent higher than in 2010/11.
  • 575 nurses and health visitors resigned from the NHS for health reasons in 2019/20,5 per cent higher than those leaving for health reasons from 2010/11. This number is also 10 per cent higher than it was in 2018/19.
  • More nurses and health visitors are retiring because they are at retirement age – 4,361 in 2019/20 – up 6 per cent on 2010/11, and up 4 per cent on 2018/19, showing signs of an aging workforce.
  • 448 nurses and health visitors left the NHS because they could get a better reward package elsewhere in 2019/20, 2 per cent higher than those leaving for this reason in 2010/11.

The NHS entered the pandemic with 100,000 staff vacancies, including shortages of more than 10,000 doctors and 40,000 nurses.

Commenting on the figures, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Justin Madders MP, said: 

“These figures should be ringing alarm bells loud and clear that Ministers need to change course and start listening to and valuing the NHS workforce.”

“Years of pay freezes, record vacancies and relentless pressure are having their effect with hard pressed staff voting with their feet.”

“The last year has seen NHS workers perform heroically but for many the offer of a real terms pay cut will be the last straw so Government need to urgently reconsider their approach otherwise the exodus we have seen in recent years will become a flood.”