Foundation trusts aim to spend £500m recruiting 10,000 additional frontline clinical staff this year as a short term fix before cutting the workforce by almost 30,000 in the following two years, their latest plans show.

Monitor said the 145 foundation trusts it oversees were seeking to recruit 4,133 nurses, 1,134 permanent consultants and 1,273 junior doctors. The remaining 3,400 extra posts would be made up of healthcare assistants, ambulance paramedics, and social care and theatre staff.

In its annual review of foundation trust plans, the regulator suggests the investment this year is a “short term fix” to deal with “operational pressures” and the fallout from both the Francis inquiry and the Keogh mortality review.

While trusts plan a 2 per cent increase in whole time equivalent staff this year, they will then look to cut 30,000 whole time equivalent posts over 2014-15 and 2015-16, largely by cutting the number of nurses by 4 per cent.

Trusts will also offset the cost of the recruitment by a 39 per cent cut in the use of temporary bank and agency staff this year.

The initial increase in staffing comes as trusts face a tougher Care Quality Commission inspection regime and a greater focus on the quality of care following both the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry and the review of 14 trusts with high mortality rates that was undertaken by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

Monitor chief executive David Bennett said: “We are pleased the sector is investing some of its surplus in increasing resources to improve patient care and hope this will relieve some of the operational pressure the NHS is currently facing.”

The prediction of a growth in staff numbers followed by a cut follows a similar pattern that was expected to occur in recent years.

In 2011 and 2012 trusts said they would increase staff, before cutting them back in subsequent years, although this has not yet materialised.


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