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Health and social care workforce Workforce shortages are the biggest challenge facing the NHS and social care in England. This issue has been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has exposed the dangers of running a system with significant shortages. The Health Foundation’s REAL Centre puts into context the scale of the workforce challenge, using independent evidence and research to support better long-term decision making.

This page showcases our analysis of the issues impacting the health and care workforce. It will be regularly updated as new research is published, including our forthcoming landmark report exploring projections of NHS workforce demand and supply over the next decade.

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  • Staffing shortages are an existential threat to the future of the NHS. 

  • The NHS staffing gap in trusts in England alone stands at around 110,000 full-time equivalents, but new research from the Health Foundation’s REAL Centre outlines how this gap is likely to grow substantially by 2030. 

  • Workforce shortages are also endemic in adult social care in England, with recent data from Skills for Care suggesting there were over 100,000 vacancies in the sector on an average day in 2020/21.   

  • A comprehensive long-term workforce strategy is crucial and must be backed by investment. 

Workforce supply and demand projections

Our analysts estimate how the demand for NHS staff might grow in the coming years alongside projections of NHS staff supply.


Our analysts examine the latest data on NHS staff earnings, exploring past trends and assessing the system underlying NHS staff pay determination.


The REAL Centre works in partnership with leading experts and academics to research and model the future demand for care and the supply of workers entering the workforce. 


Read commentary on the NHS and social care workforce from our experts.

Media and spokespeople

Browse our recent press releases and get in touch with our spokespeople on the NHS and social care workforce.

Our workforce spokespeople


Explore our research projects focusing on the NHS and social care workforce

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