The latest NHS workforce figures have shown that a record number of staff voluntarily resigned from their jobs during the first quarter of this financial year.
According to the data, almost 35,000 NHS workers resigned voluntarily, which was up from 28,105 during the same period in 2021, and 19,380 in 2020. It is also higher than in any equivalent first quarter over the last 10 years.
The most common reason for leaving during quarter one of 2021-22 was ‘work-life balance’, with almost 7,000 NHS workers citing this as their reason for leaving their jobs.
Close to 2,000 NHS workers also left in the same period in search of a ‘better reward package’, with almost 1,000 reporting ‘incompatible working relationships’. In it unclear from the NHS digital data whether they left the NHS altogether.
HSJ reported earlier this year that the number of staff taking voluntary resignation had accelerated during 2021, which appeared to be driven by staff who would have usually resigned in 2020 but did not when the pandemic was at its peak. However, the rise last year appears to have continued, suggesting this was not a short-lived trend.
Nuffield Trust researcher Lucina Rolewicz said it should be a “major concern” that the numbers of staff citing work-life life balance and health problems as a reason for leaving nearly quadrupled over the last decade.
She added: “Workers walking away from the NHS mid-career is not inevitable. If NHS employers hope to retain valuable staff, then they must deliver on issues such as workplace culture and ensure the right training and support from employers is in place.”
Nuffield Trust analysis of the latest data also revealed more than 40,000 nurses left their jobs over the past year, with a high number of leavers almost cancelling out the rise in new joiners.
The turnover data also pointed to other concerning trends over the past year; more midwives left the NHS than joined, along with speciality registrars, ambulance staff and senior managers.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “As the health and social care secretary has said, we are focused on delivering for patients on the issues they care about most. This includes easing pressure on ambulances, clearing the covid backlogs, supporting discharge from hospital and ensuring improved access to doctors and dentists. All of this will be driven by a bolstered workforce.
“We have also commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce plan to help recruit and retain more NHS staff.”