Four groups of nursing staff are in most short supply at the moment, according to an analysis of demand for agency workers.
Recruitment agency MSI Group has compiled a top 10 list of the UK’s “most sought-after clinicians”, based on market analysis.
It noted that some already featured on the government’s current list of occupations in short enough supply that they can be “sensibly” filled by overseas recruits from outside Europe.
But the agency warned that more needed to be done to train and develop healthcare professionals in order to “avoid major future skills-gaps”.
Top of its shortage list was district nurses, though it noted that “current demand” also extended to health visitors and other community staff.
It said the health service’s move towards attempting to provide services in the community that were traditionally provided in hospitals had “created unprecedented demand for district nurses”.
The list also included specialist intensive care nurses, accident and emergency nurses and paediatric nurses.
There was currently high demand for specialist nurses to staff intensive care units, particularly neonatal intensive care units, the agency said.
“It is essential investment is made in training and development to ensure we are able to pipeline talent for the future”
Nick Simpson, MSI
Meanwhile, it said A&E departments were seeking to recruit nurses following the new guidance, published earlier this year by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which recommended there should be a maximum of four patients per nurse.
Although not on the government shortage occupation list, registered paediatric and neonatal nurses were “continually sought-after, as strict nurse-to-patient ratios are enforced amid consistent demand”, said the agency.
MSI Group also identified sonographers, radiographers, surgeons, psychiatrists, A&E doctors and locum GPs on its list.
In February, government advisors recommended against registered nursing in general being added to its shortage occupation list.
The Migration Advisory Committee, which advises ministers, carried out a partial review of the shortage occupation list in September. It concluded nursing should not be added, as it “did not receive evidence of a national shortage”.
It also recommended that specialist nurses working in neonatal or paediatric intensive care units who had previously been on the list should now be removed. But it said paramedics and various medical roles in clinical radiology, paediatrics, psychiatry and emergency medicine should be added.
The committee’s decision drew an angry response from the Royal College of Nursing, which insisted there was “extensive and unambiguous” evidence of a shortage of nurses in the UK.