Hospital Dr News

UK nursing numbers in decline as demand for NHS services continue to rise

Nursing numbers in the NHS are in decline, according to new figures.

NMC registration data reveals an increase in the number of nurses and midwives leaving the register while at the same time, numbers joining have slowed down.

The number registered in the UK fell by 1,783 to 690,773, in the year to March.

Recent public attention has focused on the reducing number of EU nurses and midwives wanting to work in the UK due to the uncertainties created by Brexit, but these figures show that it is mainly UK nurses and midwives who are leaving the register.

Between 2016 and 2017, 45% more UK registrants left the register than joined it for the first time.

Data also seems to show that more nurses and midwives are leaving the register before retirement age with a noticeable increase in those aged under 40 leaving.

Earlier this month, an NMC survey of more than 4,500 nurses and midwives who left the register over the previous 12 months revealed the top reasons given. These included working conditions, (including issues such as staffing levels), a change in personal circumstances (such as ill health or caring responsibilities) and a disillusionment with the quality of care provided to patients.

There are also problems with attracting new nurses.

Nurses and midwives previously received bursaries during their studies, but the government announced it would cease the NHS bursaries system from 1 August 2017, meaning students in many healthcare fields will now have to repay the cost of their degrees.

RCN chief executive Janet Davies said: “In September it will be the first time we see nurses coming in and having to take a loan.

“We know that’s put people off, we haven’t seen the actual figures but we know it’s really low in some places and of course that just went into savings.”

The RCN called on the government to scrap the 1% public sector pay cap as a matter of urgency to prevent more health workers leaving.

The government however claimed that there were now 13,000 more nurses working in England than in 2010.

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