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Health think tanks have warned that the UK National Health Service (NHS) is at risk of facing shortage of approximately 350,000 staff by 2030.

A new briefing by the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation said that the shortages could affect care quality and the budget for frontline services.

The warning follows a recent analysis by Nuffield Trust, which said that the NHS may experience up to £2.3bn in extra annual costs by the end of 2019-2020, in case of a no-deal Brexit.

According to the latest briefing titled ‘The health care workforce in England: make or break?’, the health service currently has a staff shortfall of more than 100,000. The think tanks predict that this may increase by nearly 250,000 by 2030.

The think tanks said: “If the emerging trend of staff leaving the workforce early continues and the pipeline of newly trained staff and international recruits does not rise sufficiently, this number could be more than 350,000 by 2030.”

“If the emerging trend of staff leaving the workforce early continues and the pipeline of newly trained staff and international recruits does not rise sufficiently, this number could be more than 350,000 by 2030.”

The current shortages are believed to be because of incoherent approach to workforce policy at a national level, inadequate funding for training and poor workforce planning, among others.

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A previous report published in Research Professional revealed that the NHS staff shortages could lead to cutbacks in clinical trials, which in turn may impact drug research activity.

As the blueprint for additional £20.5bn funding to the NHS for the next ten years is set to be published in the near future, the think tanks highlight the need for creating a long-term plan to address the workforce crisis.

The briefing noted: “Unless new staff can quickly be recruited and trained, the NHS simply will not have the workers available to meet the demand for healthcare expected over the next decade, exacerbating recruitment and retention problems.

“This will mean that even with the extra money to commission frontline services, healthcare providers will not have the staff to deliver them.”