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27.07.17

Exodus of experienced nurses doubles in three years

More warnings about the nursing workforce have been issued today as it was revealed that the number of experienced nurses leaving the profession has doubled in the last three years.

Figures released by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) stated that increasing demand and decades of low pay is leading nurses with 10 or more years of experience to leave the health service.

Around 600 nursing staff with at least a decade of experience who are members of the RCN now leave the NHS ever year – twice as many as in 2013-14.

The news also comes on the same day as the RCN’s second day of protest over the government’s refusal to scrap the 1% public sector pay cap, which has seen wages drop in real terms by 14% since 2010.

The royal college is also demanding action from health departments across the UK to retain the vital services of the most experienced staff in nursing.

“The best nurses shouldn’t be forced to throw in the towel because of staff shortages, relentless pressure and poor pay. This perfect storm is engulfing nursing and the stakes could scarcely be higher,” said Janet Davies, its chief executive.

“When these people leave nursing, they are taking years of knowledge and hands-on experience with them. Patients get the best care when the most experienced nurses work alongside the newly trained. That practice is now at risk.

"All four countries of the UK need a plan to retain the years of collective experience and stem these losses,” she concluded. “They must commit to safe staffing levels in legislation, invest in health services and lift the pay cap that is cutting salaries in real terms.”

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