1 in 10 nurses leaving the NHS each year

NHS England is under further pressure as new statistics reveal 1 in 10 nurses are leaving the public health service.

There has been a 20% rise in nurses hanging up their scrubs and waving goodbye to the profession since 2012/13. This figure means that there are now more men and women ending their jobs within nursing than there are joining.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, told BBC News today:

“These are disappointing, but not surprising, figures. The Government must lift the NHS out of this dangerous and downward spiral.

“In England, we are haemorrhaging nurses at precisely the time when demand for health and care services has never been higher. Short-sighted cuts to nurse training places mean the next generation of British nurses aren’t coming through just as the most experienced nurses are becoming demoralised and leaving.”

NHS Wales are seeing a 7.5% rise in leavers and NHS Scotland are seeing a 7.2% increase. Last year, 33000 left NHS England, the biggest drop across the NHS workforce for five years.

Less than a quarter of leavers were over 55 years of age, and the majority of those quitting were under 40. Brexit is also thought to have made impact – as more nurses from the EU leave the sector than those from the union look to join.

It is not clear what routes nurses pursue after withdrawing from the National Health Service, however the figures include nurses who stay within the health sector but choose to go private or move abroad.

The news comes just months after the Royal College of Nursing staged demonstrations in protest over understaffing within the NHS.

Julie Dunn is a Staff Nurse at Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban. She has witnessed first-hand the pressures that understaffing can bring to NHS. Watching her colleagues leave their jobs has made Julie worried for the welfare of her patients. She told us:

“It’s unsafe to work understaffed- which isn’t the nurses fault, but they would still be accountable for any mistakes that happen. As well as working at an unsafe level sometimes, there are patients who require 1-1 care and cannot receive this when staffing levels are short.”


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