According to Nursing Times, the most recent data from UCAS reveals a 10% decline in the number of individuals accepted into undergraduate nursing programs in the UK compared to the previous year.
The 2023 academic year commenced with 26,330 successful nursing student applicants, marking the lowest admission rate for this degree since 2019. This contrasts with the 2022 figures when 29,440 applicants were accepted and represents a substantial 19% decline since the 2020 academic year, which experienced heightened interest due to the Covid-19 pandemic, boasting 32,575 successful applicants.
This decline in nursing applicants follows the ambitious NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, which aims to increase combined nursing and midwifery training intakes from 40,400 in 2022 to 72,400 by the 2031-32 academic year.
Dr Nichola Ashby, the Royal College of Nursing’s deputy chief nurse, expressed concern that these figures indicate the NHS workforce plan is faltering. According to Nursing Times, she said: “Nursing is one of the greatest professions anyone can join but students are being put off by low wages, high debt, and incredibly pressurised working environments.”
Addressing the 10.8% decline in Scottish successful applicants, RCN Scotland’s Eileen Mckenna voiced worries about the insufficient nursing workforce and suggested financial barriers as a contributing factor. Ms Mckenna said: “Scotland doesn’t have the nursing workforce it needs today and the failure to fill university places means the future is looking even more challenging.” Mckenna called for increased support for aspiring nurses and emphasised the need for improved financial assistance.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson acknowledged the evolving demand for healthcare courses post-pandemic and highlighted the overall positive trajectory in nursing as a career choice, saying: “We’ve made significant progress in
growing the workforce with record numbers of nurses – more than 50,000 extra since 2019 – working in the NHS. “The first ever NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, backed by over £2.4 billion in government funding, will further boost education and training.”
This article is based on the original article by Nursing Times, which you can read here: