Currently, nursing is proving to be an attractive career choice for people in England. A record number of 18-year-olds applying to study nursing in England in 2021, with the COVID pandemic playing a significant factor in their decision to apply. The pandemic has shone a positive spotlight on the profession and raised the public profile of nursing, as such there are many who are choosing nursing both at 18 and as a career change. Mature student applications have risen by a third; there has been the introduction of the Learning Support Fund and an investment of £55 million into practice placements all of which has contributed to an increase in applications to study nursing.1
The rise of applications is much needed, as numbers of Registered Nurses in the UK are starting to drop. The number of people leaving the Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC) register rose by 11.3% in 2021 when compared to 2020 data. There is variance across the country however, with the highest numbers of nurse leavers in the South of England.2 Demographic pressures are being keenly felt, with 20% of registered nurses being eligible to retire in the next few years. When this is considered in the aftermath of the pandemic, with huge waiting lists and the rise in urgent care for an aging population, there will be a clear shortfall of nursing staff in the short term.
Nursing shortfall in primary and independent care settings