A fall in nursing applications to UCAS reveals there might be a ‘serious risk’ of a second drop in trainee nurses – potentially risking future patient care.
‘The continued failure of ministers to get a grip on the nurse training situation will jeopardise care for patients,’ said chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Janet Davies.
For the next academic year, beginning in September 2018, the number of applications has fallen by 4,970 – which is 14%.
The RCN claims that while government ministers announced extra training places, they ‘did not attract students to fill them.’
‘The Government may have agreed to increase starting salaries for nurses but, in isolation, that will not be enough to bring in the tens of thousands more we need. More incentives are needed to make it as attractive as possible,’ said Ms Davies.
Student numbers have been steadily decreasing, between 2016-2017 numbers have fallen by a third since bursaries were removed – down from 47,390 to 31,750.
This revelation follows the recent outrage from student nurses who will not receive their student loans for the rest of the academic year thanks to an admin error by the Student Loans Company.
With the current workforce declining, the RCN has analysed data and shown that there are at least 40,000 vacant places in England alone.
‘Extra university places are only worthwhile if they are filled and the NHS gets a newly trained nurse at the end. The Government knows patients can pay a highest price when there aren’t enough nurses,’ continued Ms Davies.
‘Ministers must redouble efforts to get students into nursing courses in September this year. Across the board, nursing students must be encouraged and supported – the Government should resolve the loans fiasco and abandon its latest bursary plans.’
The government has since declared its intention to remove the bursary from post-graduate students for the next academic year, a move the RCN has strongly opposed.
Back in February, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said that their ‘priority’ is to increase nurse numbers and claimed that nursing places at university ‘remain oversubscribed.’