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Nursing and midwifery workforce numbers continue to grow

The number of nurses, midwives and nursing associates on the NMC register has grown by 7909 to 724,516 since 1 April, new figures have shown

The number of nurses, midwives and nursing associates on the NMC register has grown by 7909 to 724,516 since 1 April, new figures have shown.

Analysis of the figures show that the total numbers of nurses on the permanent register has increased by 5949 (0.9%) while the number of midwives has risen by 937 (2.5%). At the end of September this year there were also 2707 nursing associates registered to work in England - a jump of 1014 (59.9%) since March 2020.

Supported by an increase in those from the UK joining and staying on the permanent register, domestic growth is clear with the number of professionals trained in the UK and registered to practise climbing from 600,906 to 607,748, an increase of 1.1% in a six-month period.

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‘It’s therefore good news to see the growth in our permanent register at this mid-year point is broadly consistent with the same period last year - and even more encouraging to see increases in people from the UK choosing to join and stay,’ said Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC.

‘However, we cannot be complacent. Nurses, midwives and nursing associates are at the heart of the UK response to COVID-19 and the long term impact on their future recruitment and retention is as yet unknown. Together, we must do all we can to nurture, protect and support nurses, midwives and nursing associates so they choose to stay once the COVID-19 crisis has passed. That way our professionals can continue the vital role they have in providing the safe, kind and effective nursing and midwifery care and support the public will need more than ever.’

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The number of professionals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) has also increased by 1557 to 85,873, a rise of 1.8. However, this is substantially smaller than in recent years and in comparison to the same period in 2019. According to the NMC, this is primarily due to protective measures arising from the coronavirus pandemic having a significant effect on the movement of people from outside the UK as well as temporarily restricting the ability to run overseas nursing and midwifery tests.

The impact of these measures is particularly evident from the average number of people joining the permanent register each month from outside the EEA. From April to September 2019, an average of 765 overseas professionals joined each month. But from April to September 2020 the average was just 351. In June 2020, just five professionals joined from outside the EEA.

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‘The importance of all nursing staff has never been clearer and it is good news to see an increase in the number of registered staff. But the growth we are seeing is not even close to enough to fill existing gaps. The additional 6,000 nurses are welcome but that still leaves tens of thousands of unfilled roles in the UK,’ said Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing

‘This is even more worrying when we know a third are considering their future in this profession, and those who remain are suffering burn out and stress. Today, we are going to Westminster and calling on the UK Government to back us with investment that values the work of nursing staff. An immediate pay rise of 12.5% will begin to reflect the skills and complexity in nursing’