Significant investment is needed to encourage people onto undergraduate nursing degree courses
The number of new students accepted onto nursing undergraduate degree courses in England is nowhere near enough to meet current let alone future demand.
The latest figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show England is far behind in recruiting the number of new nurses it needs to care for an ever increasing needs of patients.
Even with the increase of just 4% on last year this is still down by 8% on the numbers since 2016 the final year of the bursary, which covered the cost of nurse tuition fees and living costs whilst on placement, was removed.
Overall this year there are 1,360 fewer people accepted onto undergraduate nursing degree courses in England than in 2016.
The stated aim of the reform of nurse student funding was described by ministers as a way to boost student places and increase the number of nursing students in England. Yet the latest figures show this has failed to work leaving nearly 40,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS in England alone. This also does not take account of vacancies in community and social care sectors.
The only way the Government will begin to address the future workforce need is through significant investment to incentivise people to study nursing and support them while they do so.
The Royal College of Nursing is calling on the Government to invest at least £1b per year into nursing education in England which must be underpinned by workforce planning for future population needs.
Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said:
“It is encouraging to see our future nurses being accepted onto courses and we look forward to welcoming them to the nursing workforce.
“The efforts of NHS England to attract more people into nursing is a positive step but today’s figures still show that there will still be fewer nurses than we need entering our understaffed health and care system on completion of their courses.
“If we are to boost the numbers needed to give patients the care they deserve we need to see decisive action through proper and sustained investment in our nurses of the future.”