Applicants to nursing courses in England have risen by 16%, as a record number of nurses and midwives are employed in the NHS, figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) show.
The NMC has seen its largest ever annual increase of registered nursing and midwifery professionals, with around 18,370 more nurses, midwives and nursing associates are now on the Nursing and permanent register to work in the UK compared to a year ago, bringing the total number to 716,607 by 31 March 2020. The number of people trained in the UK leaving the register has also fallen to a five-year low.
The number of new applicants between January and June was 68% higher than the same period last year (11,360 in 2020, compared to 6,750 in 2019). Nearly two thirds of nursing and midwifery applicants living in England are mature students aged 21 or over, a 24% increase on last year.
‘I’m delighted to see record numbers of nurses and midwives now working in our NHS as we work towards delivering 50,000 more nurses in this parliament,’ said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
‘As we continue our battle with this deadly disease, our world leading healthcare system has never been more important. We will continue to give it the support it needs today, as well as protecting it for generations to come. Nurses have saved countless lives during the pandemic, and the NHS simply couldn’t function without them.’
While figures reveal an increase in the number of nurses, midwives and nursing associates on the register, the NMC has also expressed concerns about the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the nursing workforce. The report shows that even before the pandemic, stress had forced staff to leave the profession. Numbers of nurses from the European Economic Area continued to decline, while the workforce became more reliant on overseas nurses from countries outside the EEA.
‘We celebrate the diversity of our global profession and numbers are slowly moving in the right direction. But the UK government needs to do everything within its gift to help our existing workforce and ensure that nursing is attractive, well-paid and meaningfully supported. This is how to equip NHS and care services to help keep patients safe,’ said Dame Donna Kinnair, the RCN’s Chief Executive.
‘The NMC’s data shows that too often people quit nursing because of the level of pressure, making shortages even more acute. It’s tough going to work every day when there aren’t enough of you and there is seemingly little light at the end of the tunnel. Breaking this cycle through investment in domestic supply and action