Number of nurses and midwives leaving NHS at highest in four years | Feeding with milk

More than 27,000 nurses and midwives left the NHS last year, with many blaming job pressures, the Covid pandemic and poor patient care for their decision.

A rise in the number of staff leaving their posts across the UK – the first in four years – has raised concerns that frontline workers are being overstretched, particularly with the shortage of nurses across the country. of the NHS.

New figures show the NHS is also becoming increasingly dependent on internationally trained nurses and midwives, with domestic recruitment remaining stubbornly low.

In a report released on Wednesday, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) reveals that the number in both professions across the UK has reached its highest level – 758,303.

However, while 48,436 nurses and midwives joined its register, 27,133 stopped working last year – 25,219 nurses, 1,474 midwives and 304 who performed both roles. That was more than the 23,934 who made it in 2020 after Covid hit, and 25,488 who left in 2019.

“With over 500 nurses and midwives leaving every week, there is no room for government complacency. [about NHS staffing]said Sara Gorton, health officer at the Unison union.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive of the NMC, said that while the record number of nurses and midwives was welcome news, “a closer look at our data reveals some worrying signs”. She cited the large number of departures and the fact that “those who left shared disturbing stories of the pressure they had to endure during the pandemic.”

The NMC asked 6,458 of those who quit last year for the top three reasons they quit. Too much pressure (18.3%), negative work culture (13%), Covid (11.8%) and disillusionment with the quality of care patients receive (8.1%) emerged as key factors , although retirement (42.9%) and a change in personal circumstances (21.7%) were the two most common reasons. “Too much pressure” was defined as stressed and mentally unhealthy staff.

The NHS in England has almost 40,000 unfilled nursing posts and over 8,000 unfilled doctor posts. The supply of local nurses has increased only slightly despite the government reinstating financial support of up to £8,000 a year for trainee nurses.

Of the 48,436 staff who joined the NMC register, just under half – 23,408 (48%) – were from overseas, 66% of whom had been trained in India or the Philippines. That’s a huge increase from the 2,719 who arrived in 2017-18. James Buchan, senior visiting scholar at the Health Foundation think tank, said: “International recruitment is largely a short-term quick fix that can come at the expense of long-term workforce planning. term and the national offer.”

Pat Cullen, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, has expressed concern that the NHS is taking nurses from low-income countries. “The UK’s health and care workforce is proudly diverse, but there are [recruitment] must be done ethically,” she said.

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Brexit has hit the NHS workforce hard, according to NMC figures. In 2015-16, ahead of the June 2016 referendum on EU membership, 9,389 nurses and midwives came to work in the UK from the EU and the European Economic Area. Last year, only 663 made it, the lowest number for many years. Fewer than 1,000 have done so each year since 2017-18.

Sajid Javid, the health and social care secretary, hailed the record figures from the NMC register. “I am determined to continue to increase staff numbers to help us tackle the Covid backlog and reduce waiting lists, and we are on track to provide an additional 50,000 nurses by 2024, with more than 30,000 others working in the NHS since September 2019,” he said. .

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