Responding to the report Helen Whyley, Director RCN Wales, said: “Of course we welcome more nurses joining the NMC register and are pleased to see this increase, but the difference between those joining and leaving in 2019-2020 is 121 nurses and that is worrying when we know in the NHS alone there are more than 1500 nursing vacancies in Wales. In addition, approximately 20% of those registered in Wales work in England.”
Furthermore, 38.5% on the permanent register are between the age of 51 and 70 and therefore likely to retire in the next one to 15 years. A further exacerbation of the nursing workforce shortage would be catastrophic for both the NHS and social care. It is essential that the Welsh Government act to fill these vacancies and increase the number of student places year on year.
Helen Whyley said: “Now more than ever we know the importance of nurses who have stepped up to care for the people of Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Welsh Government must ensure the current nursing workforce is retained by appropriately recognising and rewarding them for the work they do with a meaningful pay rise and ensuring that nursing is an attractive career option.
The NMC report indicates that the total number of district nurses joining the register is static and this needs to change if the Welsh Government wants to achieve its ambitions of delivering care closer to home.”
The findings of the NMC’s leaver’s survey 2019 (which accompanies the registration data report) showed that, aside from retirement, the top reason cited for leaving the register was too much pressure leading to stress and/or poor mental health. 25% of respondents in Wales gave this reason and comments from the overall survey indicated that highly demanding work environments arising from a combination of high expectations, pressure of responsibility and volume of work, contributed to high stress levels.
Helen Whyley said: “This survey was carried out before the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes it even more perturbing that work pressure is a top reason for leaving the register. The Welsh Government must invest in the nursing workforce and work with employers to ensure that the well-being of our nursing staff is a priority.”