The large number of unfilled NHS job vacancies is posing a serious risk to patient safety, a report by MPs says.
It found England is now short of 12,000 hospital doctors and more than 50,000 nurses and midwives, calling this the worst workforce crisis in NHS history.
It said a reluctance to decisively plug the staffing gap could threaten plans to tackle the Covid treatment backlog.
The government said the workforce is growing and NHS England is drawing up long-term plans to recruit more staff.
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who chairs the Commons health and social care select committee that produced the report, said tackling the shortage must be a “top priority” for the new prime minister when they take over in September.
“Persistent understaffing in the NHS poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety, a situation compounded by the absence of a long-term plan by the government to tackle it,” he said.