RCN demands action to stop senior nurses quitting NHS

RCN figures show that the number of senior nurses leaving the profession has doubled. 

The number of experienced nurses leaving the profession has doubled in the past three years, according to the RCN

Twice as many RCN senior nurses have left their jobs, compared to 2013-14
Picture: Daniel Mitchell

Nurses with more than ten years’ service are leaving due to the ‘perfect storm engulfing nursing and the NHS’, the college has warned.

Figure analysis

An analysis of RCN membership has shown twice as many senior nurses of working age are leaving their jobs compared with 2013-14.

A total of 591 RCN members with at least a decade of experience quit nursing in the last 12 months, compared with 323 in the same period in 2013-14.

In 2012-13, only 36 senior nurses who are RCN members left the profession.

The RCN believes the full loss to the NHS and the profession will be higher and display the same trend.


The college has released the information on the second national campaign day over low pay stating that after ten years, the average nurse will earn a salary in the region of £29,000.

A report from NHS Digital released this week revealed falling nurse numbers and rising vacancies.

The number of job advertisements between 1 January and 31 March 2017 for full-time-equivalent (FTE) nurse and midwife posts in England increased by 3,678 compared with the same period in 2016.

 In April 2016, there were 285,080 FTE nurses and health visitors, but this fell to 284,619 this year.

The RCN has demanded action from health departments across the UK to retain the most experienced staff.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: 'The best nurses shouldn't be forced to throw in the towel because of staff shortages, relentless pressure and poor pay. This perfect storm is engulfing nursing and the stakes could scarcely be higher.

‘When these people leave nursing, they are taking years of knowledge and hands-on experience with them. Patients get the best care when the most experienced nurses work alongside the newly trained nurses. That practice is now at risk.

‘All four countries of the UK need a plan to retain the years of collective experience and stem these losses. They must commit to safe staffing levels in legislation, invest in health services and lift the pay cap that is cutting salaries in real-terms.’

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