Editorial

Editorial: Retirement crisis warnings becoming reality

As the number of NHS staff opting for retirement surges, the serious nurse shortage that experts have warned of now seems inevitable, says editor Graham Scott
Graham Scott

The figures are startling: the number of NHS staff applying to retire has surged by a quarter since 2012.

The potential consequences are alarming; a serious shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals now seems inevitable.

Retirement bulge

Unions and workforce experts have been warning for years that a retirement bulge is around the corner. More than a third of nurses are aged over 50, many are disillusioned after years of pay restraint, workloads are increasing and there are no signs that the resources available are likely to improve any time soon.

The care home sector, often forgotten in such discussions, is likely to be hit particularly hard.

Indeed, there is every chance that the workforce crisis could soon get even worse, given that later this year students will have to start paying their tuition fees and will no longer be entitled to a

The figures are startling: the number of NHS staff applying to retire has surged by a quarter since 2012.

The potential consequences are alarming; a serious shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals now seems inevitable.

Retirement bulge

Unions and workforce experts have been warning for years that a retirement bulge is around the corner. More than a third of nurses are aged over 50, many are disillusioned after years of pay restraint, workloads are increasing and there are no signs that the resources available are likely to improve any time soon.

The care home sector, often forgotten in such discussions, is likely to be hit particularly hard.

Indeed, there is every chance that the workforce crisis could soon get even worse, given that later this year students will have to start paying their tuition fees and will no longer be entitled to a bursary.

Falling behind

In other professions there is an assumption that students should be charged for their courses and pay their own living expenses because they will go on to earn much more when they graduate.

But nurses’ pay continues to fall behind that of comparable professions, so it would hardly be surprising if applications to study nursing dropped sharply over the next few years.

Ministers must act, and quickly. Relaxing the pay cap and scrapping plans to charge tuition fees would be a start, if only because it would send a message that nurses are respected and valued.

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