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Nursing facing workforce crisis despite record numbers on NMC register

8 May 2019

Intolerable pressure and Brexit forcing nursing staff to leave the profession.

Nurses at a patient

The RCN says every country of the UK needs a strategy to recruit, train and retain a new generation of nurses, and have accountability set in law for the adequate supply of nursing staff, because there aren’t enough registered nurses in the UK to meet patient demand.

The comments were made in response to new data on the UK nursing workforce published today by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The number of nurses, midwives and nursing associates now registered to work in the UK is at an all-time high, with about 8,000 more nurses, midwives and nursing associates registered to work in the UK compared to 12 months ago.

However, nearly a third of registrants leaving the profession said that too much pressure leading to stress was their main reason for discontinuing their registration.

In addition, the number of nursing and midwifery professionals from the EU on the register has fallen, with nearly 5,000 leaving in the last two years. Many of those leaving said the UK decision to leave the European Union encouraged them to consider working elsewhere.

RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: “Politicians should be alarmed by the finding that almost one in three registrants quit nursing because of intolerable pressure. They have abused the goodwill of nurses for too long and that dam is starting to burst.

She added: “The modest increases in the number of registrants are not of the scale or kind needed to meet demand and the workforce crisis isn’t abating. It is inappropriate to rely on a steady stream of nurses from beyond the EU, which seems to be the plan in England in particular.”

Page last updated - 05/10/2019