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The NHS Staffing Crisis

We’ve all experienced an appointment cancellation at the 11th hour. In the moment, it feels like a significant inconvenience. In fact, 22,000 appointments are cancelled every day under the strain placed on the NHS. Sometimes, the problem might be equipment failures. But mostly, it’s about people or the lack thereof available to provide vital healthcare.
The NHS is facing its greatest workforce crisis, with waiting lists ballooning and record numbers of nurses and doctors leaving the public health service. Some are quitting altogether, while others are choosing to enter agencies in search of better pay and working conditions.
In this article, we will explore the significance of the NHS staffing crisis and the potential remedial steps NHS trusts can take to safeguard their existing workforces, improve the quality of care provided and deliver more with less.

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The Current Situation

The staffing crisis within the NHS was an issue long before the pandemic. The pandemic, however, has made existing problems more intense and was perhaps the “last straw” for many frontline staff. The latest figures report that 132,139 roles are vacant, with the current workforce stretched beyond capacity. It is a lesser-known fact that the NHS is among the world’s largest employers, employing around 1.22 million. This makes a survey published by the British Medical Association even more alarming: almost half of NHS doctors plan to leave within a year, the survey warned, noting that the NHS risks “complete collapse” without action.

The threat this situation presents is twofold: declining patient care and out-of-control spending on agency staff to fill the gaps. And with vacancies at a record high and shifts a struggle to fill, trusts and care providers are forced to break framework agreements that cap their spending on agency staff rates.
Compiling figures for all trusts in England alone reveals a total spend on temporary staff of £8.9 billion. Whilst paying as much as £2,500 for one nursing shift is far from ordinary, it does show how much supply shortages cost the NHS. The commitment to patient care is, however, prioritised above all else.

Why are there so many vacancies, and why is filling them so difficult?

Pressure on the NHS

Internally, the NHS is caught in a vicious staff capacity cycle. The stress placed on staff and how they spend their time makes working conditions challenging and needlessly complicated. Care at Home staff are under pressure to conduct more visits in less time over greater distances to meet demand.

Shorter visits and longer travel times catalyse patient care and staff retention issues, as evidenced by UNISON, which revealed how almost three-quarters of councils were limiting home care visits to just 15 minutes. The unsustainability of this frantic pace of work is evident and sinister. In the worst cases, these factors undermined patient care and increased the frequency of missed visits.
In short, long, stressful shifts combined with low morale and a terminal work/life balance conflict are increasing the intensity of this staffing crisis. Outside of frontline duties, healthcare staff are disappointed by the pay offered by the NHS with the Covid-19 pandemic leaving many NHS workers exhausted and demoralised, perpetuating the spiral.

So, what can NHS trusts do in the face of this crisis?

Managing this environment is a significant challenge, to put it lightly. Many are looking towards connected healthcare platforms to regain control of agency staff spending. This is in an effort to retain staff, save resources and, most crucially, enhance patient care.


Advanced mobile communications and field service management platforms are vital to the present and future of healthcare in the UK. It’s a bold claim, but it does have substance.

Health & Social Care Software

Government plans revealed earlier this year showed investments of up to £250 million in digitising all diagnostic and information services to reduce the administrative burden on NHS staff. Digitising diagnostic and care services across the NHS will improve sharing of patient data across multiple systems. Multiple systems can exist between hospitals, trusts and GP surgeries. This investment aims to enable nurses, doctors, and community workers to access records quickly across multiple settings and functions.

This investment will also ensure that the NHS can deliver new treatments to patients faster, tackle health inequalities, and enhance patient care by supporting more diverse and inclusive treatment. Trust leaders should highly consider every investment, choosing technology that removes lengthy, manual activities and leverages skill-matched dynamic scheduling to put the right people on the roster at the right time. Together, this will enable greater capacity to deliver services and empower staff to easily access and record patient info at the point of care.

"Modernising our Care at Home Service with Totalmobile enables us to direct more of our staff time towards delivering support, making us more efficient."

Scott McNeillService Manager for registered Care at Home Services at South Lanarkshire

Field Service Software in Health & Social Care

Applying Service Software to Health & Social Care

Clinicians with instant access to comprehensive information at the point of service can spend more time assessing the patient’s needs. This cuts out wasted time completing repetitive forms or trying to access multiple back office systems. The same applies to a new care worker meeting a patient for the first time. They are armed with all the critical information and notes required to deliver personalised, quality care.

By implementing mobile workforce management, there is no delay in accessing patient history. Staff can easily access all information required via one solution at the point of care. By reducing administrative duties, staff have the additional capacity to spend more quality face-to-face time with patients. This enables the provision of efficient, consistent and informed care. Furthermore, with better accuracy of the information, overall patient outcomes are improved.
  • Providing staff access to information at the point of service improves information retrieval. This can have a powerful impact on other elements of staff roles. Smoother information retrieval creates a less stressful and frustrating working environment and provides a better work-life balance, improving morale and aiding staff retention.
  • Health and care providers can also share information and access across departments. This ensures staff follow standardised processes and remain compliant.
  • Technology can ultimately enhance the digital maturity of the NHS, resulting in a journey that can include such technologies as skill-based dynamic scheduling, centralised resources and data analytics.
  • It encourages the focus on the frontline worker, providing them with access to devices, empowering data capture and information and optimising services to make them more efficient. The positive impact this has on community healthcare workers’ way of working will ultimately improve how they can deliver care and improve patient care outcomes as a result.

Totalmobile in Health & Social Care

Totalmobile is at the forefront of digital transformation in the UK healthcare market. We provide solutions that transform the delivery of community health, mental health, and social care services. Focusing on the clinician’s needs empowers them to focus on delivering better patient outcomes. Specifically, we have extensive experience working with leading health and social care organisations across the UK, enabling meaningful change.

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Edward Bell

Edward Bell, Totalmobile's Content Strategist, shapes and delivers compelling content spotlighting their unique SaaS solutions. With 6+ years in MarComs, his journey spans diverse marketing roles, driven by tech passion. Edward fuels Totalmobile's mission, educating and advocating for impactful solutions across sectors, ensuring ROI for customers.