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18.08.17

Numbers placed into nursing courses drops by 8% since 2016

Nurses have today warned that there are not enough new workers being trained to keep pace with demand as UCAS figures showed that there had been an 8% drop in students who had been placed into university this year compared to 2016.

Following results day yesterday, which saw thousands of young people across England receive their A-Level results, there are currently 16,100 nursing students who have confirmed places in universities, but the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned this figure is not enough.

Figures also showed that a further 6,090 students had an offer, whilst 13,690 may be placed in clearing. The number of people aged over 25 who have been placed into nursing courses was also found to have decreased by 12% since 2016.

In a statement, RCN chief executive Janet Davies said that these low numbers showed the NHS trying to fill “a leaking bucket” as more people were leaving the profession than joining it.

“The longstanding pay cap is driving people away from nursing, and understaffing heaps pressure on those who are left. Most worryingly, we don’t have enough nurses to guarantee patient safety,” she argued.

“The government has promised 10,000 more health care professionals in the next five years, but we need transparency over how it intends to monitor its progress.

“We are calling on the government to publish the actual number of nursing students starting this autumn by the end of this year.”

Davies stated that, most importantly, the government must develop a coherent workforce strategy, tracking students’ progress into the workforce.

New investment in nursing students must be part of this to ensure the future of nursing and the safety of patients,” she concluded.

But a spokesperson for the DH argued that there was an overall decline for UK subjects, and that the overall number of confirmed nursing places is higher than it was in 2015 and 2013, and in line with figures for 2015.

“As always, these figures show there still is strong demand for nursing and midwifery courses — with over 16,000 students placed so far and more to come via clearing over the next two weeks,” they added.

"This is why just last week we responded to calls from the higher education sector and committed to funding an extra 10,000 training places by 2020 — meaning more talented students can fulfil their potential as our future NHS nurses and midwives.”

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