In its seventy-five-year history, the NHS currently is under some of the toughest circumstances. The coronavirus outbreak is only a peripheral challenge when it comes to the National Health Service's years-long struggles with poor arrangements and persistent underfunding.

The workforce of the NHS is undoubtedly its most significant asset. However, it is currently experiencing a protracted labour turmoil that is being fuelled by long periods of deficient funding in hiring and training new employees, poor personnel organising, and an absence of federal responsibility. Consequently, there is a perpetual loop of increasing requirements, diminishing employee satisfaction, and inadequate staffing retention. An ongoing issue that antecedes the coronavirus outbreak is the persistent plethora of open positions in the NHS.

With almost 50,000 open positions, nursing continues to have the highest percentage of vacancies. A great deal of practitioners provides health care, therefore nurse shortfalls immediately affect the National Health Service, which means current workers are compelled to take on a heavier workload. A high percentage of labour turnover rates result from copious unfilled positions because they foster settings of ongoing stress, which puts more strain on the remaining workforce.

Before COVID-19, however, the expansion of healthcare investments lagged behind demand and was significantly lower than the long term average. The National Health Service was ill-equipped for a severe health catastrophe like the Coronavirus, despite the fact that more and required funds have been granted. Restoring the Healthcare service to a maintainable state will require time and money.

The NHS has become an inconvenience due to ongoing staff shortages and rising workloads because of bureaucracy. It has become much more challenging to keep the doctors we do have by dealing with substantial problems such as years of dismal salary decline as well as harsh pension tax requirements.

The mismatch between supply and demand is causing the crisis in the NHS. Supply of healthcare in the NHS is constrained by workforce problems such as higher numbers of staff off sick, early retirements – including those caused by pension problems for doctors – as well as Brexit and lower immigration during the pandemic. The best evidence for the size of the workforce crisis is the number of vacancies in the NHS: the latest data shows that there are 133,446 vacancies, which is 9.7% of the NHS workforce.

The picture is particularly bad among nurses with 47,496 vacancies or 11.9% of the total nursing workforce. High vacancy rates are not caused by a lack of funding per se, as a vacancy implies there are funds available to recruit additional staff. But financial issues like declining real pay for nurses make it harder to attract young people into nursing, and probably more importantly, to retain them in the profession in the long term. This conveys a discrepancy within the market equilibrium which must be counterbalanced swiftly to avoid any more turmoil.

The NHS’s ability to provide its service is limited because of issues with its workforce, including increasing absentee rates, Brexit and fewer immigrant employees due to COVID. The quantity of open positions, which represents almost 10% of its workforce according to the most recent data, is the strongest indicator of the severity of the staffing issue. With a plethora of open positions of 11.9% of the nursing workforce, the situation is especially dire for nurses.

Since open positions may indicate that finances are sufficient to high more employees, high absenteeism is not directly related to a lack of financing. However, monetary difficulties like the diminishing net income for nurses necessitate increased difficulties to recruit junior employees in the burning field and, more imperatively, keeping them in the field over the long haul.

One way to resolve this issue would be attempts to branch out the labour force, examining statistics on the health workforce also reveals a glimmer of hope. To simplify the process for health and social care professionals to migrate the UK, the government initiated the NHS visa in the middle of 2020 in anticipation of the transition stage or Brexit approaching its conclusion.

This was because of the realisation of the strains on the NHS’s personnel and the initial consequences of Brexit, which made it more difficult for Europeans to immigrate to the UK. From 2020 to 2021, the proportion of visas supplied was significantly low, however, in 2022, the quantity of visas that were supplied began to increase significantly, rising from 30,000 in the second quarter to over 45,000 in the third. In addition to this, the possibility of a salary agreement for healthcare professionals that assists in retaining current employees and put an end to future strikes could be an additional promising factor.