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Pressure on nurses is affecting register leaver numbers, says NMC

Support for staff well-being vital to help nurses stay as COVID-19 impact becomes clear

Support for staff well-being vital to help nurses stay as COVID-19 impact becomes clear

Retirement, stress and poor management are the leading reasons why nurses have left the profession in the past year, data from the nursing regulator reveals.

Newly released figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) show a record number of nurses and midwives are now on the register, standing at almost 732,000 on 31 March. However, the regulator said current pressures on front-line staff had clearly had a significant impact on numbers leaving the profession.

Supporting nurses well-being after COVID-19 pandemic

Andrea Sutcliffe

Statistics released by the NMC show that across the UK, 23,936 people left the register in 2020-21, compared

Support for staff well-being vital to help nurses stay as COVID-19 impact becomes clear

Picture: iStock

Retirement, stress and poor management are the leading reasons why nurses have left the profession in the past year, data from the nursing regulator reveals.

Newly released figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) show a record number of nurses and midwives are now on the register, standing at almost 732,000 on 31 March. However, the regulator said current pressures on front-line staff had clearly had a significant impact on numbers leaving the profession.

Supporting nurses’ well-being after COVID-19 pandemic

Andrea Sutcliffe

Statistics released by the NMC show that across the UK, 23,936 people left the register in 2020-21, compared with 21,306 in 2019-20.

A survey of 5,639 former registrants conducted between December 2020 and January 2021 found retirement was the most common reason for leaving, but 23% (1,278) cited too much pressure, which led to stress and poor mental health, and 18% (1,022) cited workplace culture issues.

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said: ‘We know from our leavers’ survey that workplace pressures and stress are among the key reasons for leaving. As we begin to address the longer-term effects of COVID-19 on our health and care services, it’s clear we must do all we can to support the physical and mental well-being of our professionals so they feel able to stay.’

Figures show ‘trouble on the horizon’

NMC data show 15,311 nurses, midwives and nursing associates joined the register between March 2020 and March 2021, but the RCN pointed out that this figure is well below the 18,370 who joined in 2019.

RCN acting general secretary Pat Cullen said the figures showed there was ‘trouble on the horizon’.

‘The register is growing nowhere near enough to meet patient demand,’ she said. ‘This is clearly a major risk for the quality and safety of patient care.’

Government pledges to improve support for nurses

When the Department of Health and Social Care was asked to respond to the RCN’s concerns, minister for care Helen Whately told Nursing Standard: ‘It’s tremendous to see the record numbers of nurses on the register. We are committed to growing their numbers as we build back better, including delivering 50,000 more nurses by the end of this parliament.

‘On our part, we will continue to improve the support for nurses and midwives who have been through so much over the last year.’

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