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Number of nurses and midwives leaving NMC register hits four-year high

Fair pay rise now an urgent priority, to stop flow of nurses out of profession, insists RCN
Number of nurses quitting NMC register at a four-yea high in 2021

A 'fair' pay rise should be an urgent priority, to stop flow of nurses out of profession, insists RCN

The number of nurses and midwives leaving the profession is at its highest level in four years.

More than 13,000 nurses, midwives and nursing associates left the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register in the past six months, according to the regulator’s mid-year registration report .

This is despite a government-led drive to boost the number of nurses in the NHS.

A 'fair' pay rise should be an urgent priority, to stop flow of nurses out of profession, insists RCN

Number of nurses quitting NMC register at a four-yea high in 2021
Picture: iStock

The number of nurses and midwives leaving the profession is at its highest level in four years.

More than 13,000 nurses, midwives and nursing associates left the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register in the past six months, according to the regulator’s mid-year registration report.

This is despite a government-led drive to boost the number of nurses in the NHS.

Rise in leavers, but in new NMC registrants too

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said the regulator would explore reasons for the spike, in its annual survey of leavers due to be published in spring 2022.

‘Some professionals may have stayed on to support the national response to the pandemic before retiring, and are now leaving. Other reasons could include the impact that the pandemic has had on people,’ she told Nursing Standard.

Between April and September 2021, 13,945 nurses, midwives, and nursing associates left the register, compared to 11,020 during the same period in 2020. The 2021 figure represents a four-year high.

Despite this, the register grew by 1.8% between April and September 2021 – increasing by 13,011 since the same period in 2020. The total number of nurses, midwives and nursing associates joining the register between April and September 2021 was 24,036.

Government’s promise to boost nurse staffing

The government has pledged to recruit 50,000 more nurses by the end of this parliament (2024/25). However, a recent report by the Health Foundation charity suggested the NHS in England needs almost 70,000 new nurses by 2021 to recover from the pandemic.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said the nurse workforce crisis is worsening, adding a long-term, fully-funded plan is urgently needed.

‘In the meantime, policymakers need to do more to stop nurses from leaving our profession. A fair pay rise for nursing staff must be urgently revisited,’ she said.

The RCN yesterday warned a ‘severely depleted’ nursing workforce is making the NHS unsustainable.


Find out more

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2021) The NMC Register Mid-year update 1 April–30 September 2021


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