The King's Fund and NHS Confederation hold joint NHS workforce conference

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'The nursing and midwifery vacancy rate in London is twice the national average,' The King's Fund director of health policy Dr Jennifer Dixon said today.

Speaking at a joint King's Fund and NHS Confederation conference, Dr Dixon said:

'London is facing huge challenges in employing enough health care workers to serve its population. There are 2,750 reported long-term vacancies in nursing and midwifery - a rate of 6.1 per cent. The capital also has high vacancy rates in professions such as general practice, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. These are especially bad in inner London.

'The population of London is projected by some experts to rise by 700,000 by 2016. More effort will be needed to boost the numbers of staff to cope with the needs of an extra population equivalent to the city of Leeds.'

Trevor Campbell Davis, vice chair of the NHS Confederation, added:

'Working for the NHS in London provides real opportunities for people - but maintaining staffing presents real difficulties for NHS organisations.

'The NHS in London is working together to maintain staffing levels, but there is a high level of competition for staff. This is compounded by the high cost of living in the capital and accommodation. This conference is a chance for NHS organisations to come together to discuss how we can join forces to address the number one issue in London.'

Other keynote speakers at the event included Peter Smith, acting head of pay modernisation at the Department of Health; Elizabeth Howlett, chairman of the Greater London Assembly's health committee; and George Barlow, chairman of the London Development Agency.

Notes to editors

NHS workforce in London: are there solutions to a capital problem? is taking place between 9am and 3.45pm at the King's Fund, 11-13 Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0AN. Keynote speeches by Dr Jennifer Dixon and Trevor Campbell Davis will take place between 9.30am and 10.10am.

Journalists and photographers are cordially invited to attend the event. For further information please contact Daniel Reynolds at the King's Fund on 020 7307 2581 or 07831 554927, or Rachel Maybank at the NHS Confederation on 020 7959 7254.

Key workforce facts in London:

  • Hospitals in central London face nursing staff turnover levels of up to 38 per cent each year;
  • The vacancy rate for the allied health professions in London is 8.3 per cent. It is 4.1 per cent for doctors and dentists;
  • The NHS in London expects to spend £268 million on agency staff this financial year;
  • More than 175,000 people in London are directly employed by the NHS.