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Reaching nurse recruitment target will still leave huge shortfall

The NHS in England could still be thousands of nurses short even if the government’s goal of recruiting 50,000 extra nurses is achieved, analysis shows
A group of four young nurses walking in a hospital

The NHS in England could still be thousands of nurses short even if the government’s goal of recruiting 50,000 extra nurses is achieved, analysis shows

The NHS in England could be facing an ‘apocalyptic’ shortage of 140,000 nurses by 2030, a report has warned.

Assuming the government’s goal of recruiting 50,000 extra nurses is achieved, a workforce analysis by the Health Foundation still predicts a shortfall of 38,000 hospital, community and primary care nurses next year.

In a worst-case scenario – where there is a fall in the number of students applying for nursing degrees, drop-out rates increase, international recruitment declines and more nurses take early retirement – the

The NHS in England could still be thousands of nurses short even if the government’s goal of recruiting 50,000 extra nurses is achieved, analysis shows

A group of four young nurses walking in a hospital
Picture: iStock

The NHS in England could be facing an ‘apocalyptic’ shortage of 140,000 nurses by 2030, a report has warned.

Assuming the government’s goal of recruiting 50,000 extra nurses is achieved, a workforce analysis by the Health Foundation still predicts a shortfall of 38,000 hospital, community and primary care nurses next year.

In a worst-case scenario – where there is a fall in the number of students applying for nursing degrees, drop-out rates increase, international recruitment declines and more nurses take early retirement – the figure could increase to 140,000, the report said.

RCN director for England Patricia Marquis said: ‘These projections show the apocalyptic impact that inactivity from ministers could have on the NHS in England – a potential shortfall of 140,000 nurses would be devastating for patient care.’

The analysis is based on current policy and trends, including increasing demand for health services.

Despite efforts to boost the number of nurses in training, it also warns of an ongoing shortage of about 36,700 nurses by 2030-31.

National and local leaders need to focus on recruitment, retention and staff well-being, says NMC

The latest data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council shows the number of nurses leaving the profession has risen by 13% in the past year, with more than 25,000 coming off the register.

More than a third of those who took part in the NMC survey said the pandemic influenced their decision to leave, with staffing shortages and increased workloads among their key concerns.

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said: ‘The pandemic has shown that drawing on the global workforce means we are exposed and vulnerable to world events, which could put future health and social care plans in jeopardy.’

National and local leaders need to focus on recruitment, retention and staff well-being to close the gap between supply and demand of nurses, Ms Sutcliffe added.

The NHS Confederation, which represents NHS leaders, said ongoing shortages of nurses were particularly concerning. Chief executive Matthew Taylor said: ‘The new prime minister must face up to chronic staffing shortages, which are compromising patient care.’

A spokesperson at the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘There are over 9,600 more nurses in the NHS compared to last year and we are… working to retain the existing workforce, boost training and education routes into nursing and use international recruitment opportunities to supply the NHS with a long-term sustainable nursing workforce.’


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