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Falling Acceptances onto Nursing Courses Fuels Staff Shortage

According to the RCN, statistics based on data from UCAS, indicate that acceptances onto nursing courses are down 13% across the UK. This is in addition to an overall decrease in students applying to nursing courses.

The RCN news article highlighted a decline in university acceptances: In England they are down by 13%, Northern Ireland they are down by 6%, Wales are down by 11%, and Scotland has seen the most dramatic change, with a 17% drop.

According to the NHS workforce plan in England that was released in July 2023, in order to meet commitments to increase the English workforce, nursing and midwifery training intakes need to increase by roughly 32,000 by 2031-32.

The RCN have expressed that the fall in nursing student applications could be due to: “several factors that have contributed to the figures falling, from continued below inflation pay rises to the UK government's failure to address concerns of adequate financial support for students.”

RCN Deputy Director for Nursing Dr Nichola Ashby said: “The UK government hasstumbled at the first hurdle of its NHS workforce plan, with 13% fewer people expected to take up nursing courses this year. These numbers are not just a sadstory for today, but a story for years to come of how ministers baked future nursing shortages into the NHS.”

There is widespread concern that the nursing workforce is in crisis, and that a major workforce expansion is required to solve this issue.

Recruiting nurses from overseas has previously been cited as one possible solution to the problem, and the government is keen to capitalise on the significant talent of overseas nurses.

NHS England has previously stated: “Recruitment from outside of the UK continues to feature as an important part of the workforce supply strategy of NHS organisations, in line with the NHS People Plan. The NHS Long Term Plan set out the ambitions for the NHS over the next 10 years, identifying ethical international recruitment as a workforce priority.”

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