HOSPITALS are struggling to recruit enough nurses with one in five posts vacant in some areas.
In England there are about 39,000 vacancies for registered nurses.
One in 10 posts is unfilled on acute wards in London while there is a one in five shortage on mental health wards in the South-east.
Nursing leaders say the shortfall was made worse by a collapse in the number of recruits from Europe.
Patricia Marquis, of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “There just aren’t enough staff to deliver the care that is needed, and we now have a workforce crisis. We should never have got into a position where we were so dependent on international nurses. We are on a knife edge.”
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Those struggling to fill posts include University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS trust, which has reported 401 unfilled nursing posts – a vacancy rate of 12 percent. It is now recruiting from overseas, including India and Ghana.