Health: NHS staff shortages hit 10,000

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The Independent Online
The NHS is short of nearly 10,000 doctors and nurses, according to official figures, the Liberal Democrats said yesterday. Dr Evan Harris, the party's health spokesman, said the figures are based on Department of Health releases and figures gathered by the House of Commons library. He claimed that in nine months in office, the Government had "not lifted a finger to fill these gaping holes in NHS staff shortages".

According to his findings: The NHS is short of 1,600 hospital doctors,more than 8,000 nurses, and there are nearly 1,000 GP vacancies. Cancelled operations also rose by 5 per cent between April and September.Dr Harris said: "These new figures show that the NHS is facing a staffing crisis this winter. With nearly 10,000 doctors and nurses missing from wards, a record number of operations have been cancelled."

The Liberal Democrat spokesman said Frank Dobson, the Secretary of State for Health, tried to paint a picture of cooperating within the NHS and treatment for all "but without the staff he is wasting his breath".

The Liberal Democrats want an increase in the number of medical and nursing students and public funding to pay for them, plus incentives for medical graduates to stay in the NHS and for students to go into nursing.