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Ageing population and Brexit could exacerbate recruitment crisis

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The UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June The UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June

The combination of a growth in the population of patients aged over 85 and potential interruptions to recruitment from EU countries could add additional pressures onto the already overstretched nursing workforce, a report by the Institute of Employment Studies has found.

Additionally, the nursing workforce is ageing, with one in three nurses set to reach retirement age in the next decade. According to the report, increased demand for nurses caused by the Francis Report’s emphasis on safe staffing, is adding to this pressure. Finally, financial pressures have led to too few nurse training places being commissioned and fewer nursing posts.

‘With an ageing population, and more people living with multiple complex conditions, we will need more graduate, registered nurses than ever,’ Stephanie Aiken, deputy director of nursing for the RCN.

The NHS workforce is also already reliant on nurses from the EU. According to the report, 20% of nurses were from the EU in 2015 in one trust, and 18% in another. The report states that the uncertainty that Brexit has caused will require a huge deal of workforce planning to meet the needs of the population.

‘The UK is already over-reliant on nurses from other countries, but if this supply is to be cut off at the same time as we are training fewer ourselves then this must act as a wake-up call,’ added Ms Aiken.

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