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NHS ‘retention crisis’ has seen more than 200,000 nurses quit since 2010

More than 200,000 nurses have left the NHS since 2010 and the number quitting over long hours has tripled amid a “retention crisis” in the health service, new figures show.

Data analysed by Labour and verified by the House of Commons Library showed that 75% of nurses who have left the NHS since 2010 – 160,000 – quit for reasons other than retirement, and voluntary resignations have increased by 55%.

Nurses said patient care was being “routinely compromised by chronic staff shortages” and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called the figures “utterly staggering.”

The NHS data showed that voluntary resignations citing poor work-life balance were the largest reasons for a 55% increase in resignations, with 18,013 cases in 2017-18 alone.

Ambulance staff resignations doubled from 4.8% in 2011-12 to 8.1% in 2017-18, but doctors were the group with the greatest number of departures with 14.6% quitting in 2017-18.

A total of 200,586 nurses have quit the NHS from June 2010 to June 2018, and Labour said their research was released in anticipation of baroness Dido Harding’s Workforce Implementation Plan.

In speech at an event by IPPR, Jonathan Ashworth stated: “It’s utterly staggering that our NHS has lost over 200,000 nurses under the Tories and that voluntary resignations from the NHS is up 55 per cent.

“We are facing a retention crisis in our NHS and standards which staff should expect – enshrined in the NHS Constitution – have simply been abandoned.

“After years of pay restraint, cuts to training budgets and growing pressures it is no wonder the NHS is facing chronic shortages of 100,000 staff. These shortages affect patient care every day as waiting lists grow and operations are cancelled.”

Amber Jabbal, head of policy at NHS Providers, said: "It is no secret that the challenges of recruiting and retaining the right level of staffing to keep health and care services running are the number one concern for NHS trusts.”

Last week, a report from think tanks warned that without radical change the NHS staffing crisis could double, leaving the health service with a shortfall of 70,000 nurses and 7,000 GPs within the next five years.

The report said the crisis is now so severe “it cannot be filled” and proposed a series of radical measures including an expansion of nurse training, grants for post-graduate courses and international recruitment.


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