The overwhelming majority of healthcare workers (89.7 per cent) believe that worsening skills shortages are having a negative impact on levels of patient care, new data from the job site CV-Library reveals.

The survey sampled the attitudes of more than 1,000 healthcare workers regarding key issues in the sector. The top three areas suffering the most acute effects of skills shortages emerged as care for the elderly (67 per cent), care for mental health patients (56.2 per cent) and care for nursing home patients (34.5 per cent). More than half of the workers polled (54.3 per cent) do not believe that sufficient resources have been set aside to deliver a seven-day NHS.

Of the respondents, 81.4 per cent think that businesses operating within the healthcare sector could provide additional training to reduce skills deficits, while 50.9 per cent believe that the talent needed to plug the skills gap does exist but isn’t being properly harnessed.

CV-Library’s founder and MD, Lee Biggins, said: “… financial cuts are happening across the NHS, meaning many healthcare organisations are unable to meet demands. Organisations are having to become even savvier when searching for new talent; we are seeing the most successful results amongst business that are taking a more targeted approach to recruitment, and complementing this with training to up-skill existing talent and make use of the resource already in the business.

“Our research found that 35.5% of workers think more training and development opportunities would entice people into the healthcare sector, as well as better opportunities for progression (31.6%).”

Many healthcare organisations have turned to skilled Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals to plug these gaps. As the CV-Library survey shows, 80.9 per cent of respondents believe that the NHS is heavily dependent on contract workers.

While the NHS introduced centrally-imposed pay caps for contracting professionals such as agency nurses and locum doctors in November last year, a study by the healthcare recruitment agency MSI Group in April 2016 found that 96 per cent of NHS Trusts were forced to breach the caps to ensure patient safety.

Research from the Recruitment and Employment Federation in April found that agency pay caps were beginning to deter vitally needed contracting professionals from working in the NHS, driving them toward the private sector instead.

In May, figures obtained by healthcare watchdog Monitor under the Freedom of Information Act found that NHS Trusts were being forced to breach agency pay caps more than 50,000 times a week in order to maintain patient safety.

The influential Public Accounts Committee concluded in March this year that “the NHS will not solve the problem of reliance on agency staff until it solves its wider workforce planning issues.”

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