The number of nursing vacancies has plunged to fewer than 1,000 across the entire country, figures collated by Nursing Times reveal.
There were only 941 nurse jobs advertised on the NHS Jobs website last week – a 58% drop and the lowest number since Nursing Times started collecting figures in August 2009.
The figures reflect job cuts and freezes as the tough financial settlements for the 2011-12 financial year start to bite.
Nursing Times also started gathering figures for healthcare assistant vacancies last May. Since then, they have dropped from 442 to just 243 as of last week – a 45% fall.
Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said: “Every nurse I speak to says their workload has increased, the number of their colleagues has reduced and they’re under immense pressure and that’s affecting their health and family life.”
A survey by Nursing Times, published last week, shows two thirds of nurses believe they have suffered the side-effects of work-related stress over the past year.
On Thursday Unison will launch results from its own survey of 2,500 nurses, of whom 80% said their organisations are making cuts.
Respondents also said the numbers of patients they are treating has increased and this has had an effect on patient care and patient safety.
Ms Adams said: “Nurses are struggling to provide care and the care they are providing isn’t to the standard they would wish.”