latest health care news

20.12.16

NHS facing hydra-headed nursing and midwifery shortfall

A combination of Brexit, Britain’s ageing population and government policy on bursaries could leave NHS trusts in England significantly short of nurses, new analysis has found.

The research, conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies, has found vulnerabilities in the current NHS nursing workforce which may leave staffing vulnerable as an unintended consequence of Brexit.

The paper finds that nurses, already a scarcity in the NHS, are ageing and falling in numbers, with fewer training places and nursing posts due to tight budgets and one in three nurses projected to reach retirement age over the next decade. This is leaving trusts increasingly dependent on EU staff who may be forced to leave by Brexit.

Dr Rachel Marangozov, lead author of the paper, said: “The ongoing uncertainty around Brexit poses serious questions for NHS workforce planners, who need to act now to reduce the impact of ‘worst case’ scenarios.

“This will be particularly important given that the NHS already faces funding challenges, increasing demand for its services and a rapidly ageing nursing workforce.”

The paper finds that trusts in London and the south east of England are particularly vulnerable to recruitment disruption post-Brexit, with 20% of nurses at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS FT being from elsewhere in the EU in 2015.

The IES research found that some trusts are also vulnerable to higher than average growth in usage by people over the age of 85, with Milton Keynes University Hospital FT, Burton Hospitals NHS FT and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHST all falling in the centre of the Venn circle.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that the IES research chimes with its warnings of a time when the nursing recruitment crisis risks “reaching catastrophic proportions”, despite more registered nurses being needed than ever before.

Stephanie Aiken, deputy director of Nursing for the RCN criticised the government’s decision to charge fees to nursing students in England and replace NHS bursaries with student loans, as the Times reported this weekend that applications for midwifery and nursing degrees have fallen by over 20%, twice as much as other academic courses.

“The UK is already over-reliant on nurses from other countries, but if this supply is to be cut off at the same time as we are training fewer ourselves then this must act as a wake-up call – the government should reverse its decision on student funding and urgently address the nursing shortfall, especially as it enters negotiations on leaving the European Union,” Aiken said.

“It is not enough for the government simply to hope that more people apply to be nurses when all the available evidence shows that they will not do so. This is a very worrying situation that could cause the staffing crisis to deteriorate past the point of no return.”

The Royal College of Midwives seconded Aiken’s warnings, highlighting that some universities have revealed almost 50% fewer applications compared to this time last year, with uptake worst affected in London and the south east. 

Jon Skewes, director for policy, employment relations and communications at the RCM, called the figures “appalling”, saying that many potentially great midwives had been deterred due to costs, with graduates and mature students particularly important to the midwifery student base.

“Maternity services in the UK are already struggling due to a shortage of 3,500 midwives in England alone. This shortage is also likely to deepen if EU citizens currently working in the NHS lose their working rights post Brexit,” Skewes said.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an NHE columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

featured articles

View all News

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now beyond more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News

comment

Creating a volunteer 'passport'

12/12/2018Creating a volunteer 'passport'

By utilising the health service’s volunteers, we can deliver better c... more >
Right people, right place, right now

12/12/2018Right people, right place, right now

Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, raises concerns ... more >

interviews

How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to s... more >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

The robots are here at East Suffolk and North Essex

12/12/2018The robots are here at East Suffolk and North Essex

Lauren Hockney, senior communications officer at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS FT (ESNEFT), outlines how her trust is embracing the digital and automation revolution. ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

healthcare events

events calendar

back

December 2018

forward
mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
26 27 28 29 30 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital exemplars who were revealed at the same show 12 months earlier.  Jeremy Hunt also stated that by the end of 2018 – the 70th birthday... read more >