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Mental health nursing under significant threat despite latest enrolments, RCN says 

Influx of students after A-level results is welcomed, but more must be done to protect posts

Influx of new students after the latest A-level results is welcomed, but the RCN says that more must be done to protect posts in mental health nursing

Thousands of students are being accepted onto nursing courses after this summer’s A-level results, but the RCN says the profession of mental health nursing remains under threat.
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Thousands of students are being accepted on to nursing courses after this summer’s A-level results, but the RCN says the profession of mental health nursing remains under threat.

Figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) showed that 21,870 students were accepted on nursing courses in the UK as a result of the A-level results, a 4% increase on last year.

RCN mental health forum chair Ed Freshwater said: ‘Since 2009 we've lost over 6,000 mental health nurses, with resultant pressure on services to provide greater coverage with fewer resources. This is proof positive that successive health ministers have failed to address the situation, or even to understand it.’

He said mental health nursing, a distinct and essential workforce, was under significant threat. ‘We are the biggest section of the mental health workforce, and struggling against impossible demands and mutually exclusive goals. Just as there is no health without mental health, there can be no mental healthcare without mental health nurses.’

Major investment needs to be made to protect nursing posts

‘The RCN mental health forum has campaigned to protect and promote our specialism, and will continue to be proud advocates for our colleagues. Major effort and investment must be made, primarily to retain existing staff and protect nursing posts.’

With the release of the A-level results, a further 9,030 nursing applicants are waiting for their places to be confirmed under a holding offer. A total of 14,690 nursing applicants are eligible to be placed in the clearing process if they choose to do so.

An RCN spokesperson said: ‘Even with an increase in enrolment of 4% on last year, this is still down 8% on numbers since 2016, the year in which the bursary, which covered the cost of nurse tuition fees and living costs while on placement, was removed.’

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