THOUSANDS of vacancies for registered nursing and midwifery posts are not being filled, new NHS figures show.

Statistics, for the quarter to the end of September 2017, show that 5,245 vacant NHS nurse and midwifery posts were advertised in the North West.

This is an increase of 574 from the previous quarter which saw 4,671 posts advertised.

However, just 445 of the posts were filled leaving a massive shortfall.

It means that nine out of 10 nursing vacancies remain unfilled in the North West.

The figures also show there are more than 1,000 nursing and midwifery full-time vacancies being advertised by hospitals in East Lancashire.

For the period between April 1 and September 30, there were 415 advertised posts in East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, 549 in Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust and 265 in Lancashire Care Foundation Trust.

Paul Wood, operational manager of the Royal College of Nursing for the North West, said the figures are ‘yet another stark reminder that our NHS is desperately short of nurses.’

He said: “The government can no longer deny the staffing crisis. The next generation of British nurses has been discouraged by the current working conditions in the NHS — record pressure, lack of funding and poor pay for staff.

“It has never been busier but is shedding experienced nurses quicker than it can find new ones. Earlier cuts to training places are exacerbating the problem just as long-serving staff feel demoralised and pushed to leave nursing in their hoards."

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “When the government allows nursing on the cheap, patients can pay the highest price. It is time to draw a line under this false economy with urgent investment in services and those who provide them — including a pay rise above inflation — and legislation to make ministers accountable for workforce planning and safe staffing levels.”

Chris Pearson, director of nursing at ELHT, said the trust continues to successfully recruit nurses locally, nationally and internationally to ensure they maintain safe staffing levels on all wards.

She said: “Despite a national shortage, this trust today employs 2,304 registered nurses and midwives to care for patients at our five hospitals and in the community. This figure is higher than the 2,266 employed in January two years ago.”