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Press release

The King's Fund comments on the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s annual registration report 2023

Commenting on the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s annual registration report 2023, Suzie Bailey, Director of Leadership and Organisational Development at The King’s Fund, said:

‘This is good news amid regular stories about the challenges faced by health and care services straining under pressure. It is encouraging that the latest figures show a record number of new nurses have joined the profession, but having more nurses should not be confused with having enough nurses.

‘The supply of nurses is not keeping pace with demand for their skills and expertise. Latest figures show that there were 43,600 NHS nurse vacancies in December in England alone.

‘This shortfall is heaping unsustainable pressure on the nursing workforce. While the number who are choosing to leave the professional fell slightly last year, dig deeper into the data and you see that more than half left nursing sooner than planned, with the majority – including younger nurses – not planning to return. Worryingly burnout and exhaustion were among the top reasons for leaving, along with concerns about quality of patient care and a lack of support from colleagues. This echoes striking findings in the NHS staff survey that only a quarter of NHS employees feel there are enough staff for them to do their job properly and more than half of NHS nurses are thinking about leaving.

‘The report also highlights our continued reliance on international recruitment to plug health and care workforce gaps, with almost half of new nurses joining from overseas. The UK is fortunate to attract overseas staff, but the Nursing and Midwifery Council points to the inequalities they face when working in the UK health service. If the NHS wants to retain overseas recruits, there needs to be an improvement in their experiences of working in the health service.

‘Ultimately, solving the workforce crisis will mean a combination of international recruitment, a steady supply of home-grown staff, and improved retention of existing staff. Today’s figures once again highlight the urgent need for a fully-funded workforce plan that can ensure the right number of staff, with the right skills, working in a supportive culture, so they are able to deliver high quality care to patients.’

Notes to editors

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.

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