Number of UK-trained nurses joining register hits all-time high
The NMC has recorded a record rise in UK-educated registrants, but there has also been concerning levels of recruitment from red-list countries
The number of domestic-trained nurses joining the UK register has hit an all-time high but the number of joiners from red-list countries is still at concerning levels, new Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) data show.
Nursing register swells by 20,000 in six months
A record 808,488 nurses, midwives and nursing associates are now registered with the NMC – a rise of almost 20,000 in the six months to September according to the nursing regulator’s registration data report published on 30 November. Some 93% of these (748,528) are nurses.
In the same time period there were 30,103 new joiners to the register, of which just over half (15,067) were educated in the UK. This is the highest number of domestic joiners ever in the first half of a financial year and is almost 25% higher than the same period last year, the report states.
But it comes amid a rise in the number of people joining from red-list countries. The data show 3,071 people from these countries joined the UK register in the six months to 30 September.
Red-list countries have their own health and care workforce-related problems and there is a ban on active recruitment from these places under ethical recruiting guidance.
NMC urges trusts to be mindful of ethical recruitment code
The NMC said there have been ‘significant proportional rises’ in joiners from Ghana and Zambia and a ‘steadily high’ number from Nigeria. The regulator urged employers to be mindful of the government’s ethical recruitment code amid the rise.
Chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe added: ‘People from across the world want to come and work in the UK. However, employers must not undermine health systems in countries with the most pressing workforce challenges through active recruitment.’
Data also show India is fast becoming the ‘single source of international recruitment to the UK workforce’, with an accelerated rise in the overall number of joiners to the UK register educated in the country.
There have been 7,223 joiners from the country in the past six months, compared to 4,849 between April and September last year, representing a 49% rise.
The retention rate has remained steady, with 13,308 professionals leaving the register since April, which is equivalent to about 2% of the register. In the same period last year, 13,164 people left, also around 2%.
RCN calls for more investment in home-grown nurses
The RCN said the headline figures in the report did not reflect what nurses were seeing on the front line and urged the government to invest more in domestic nursing staff rather than relying on staff from red-list countries.
Chief nurse Nicola Ranger said: ‘Since 2019, the NHS waiting list has grown four times faster than the nursing workforce, meaning there aren’t enough staff to provide the outstanding care patients deserve.’
NHS Providers labelled the rise in joiners from red-list countries as ‘concerning’, while Unison urged the government to stop ‘demonising’ overseas workers amid new plans being considered to curb the number of international healthcare workers coming to the UK.
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