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Press release

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

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

‘The increase in the number of nurses and midwives is obviously welcome, but the headline figure masks some worrying trends. The rate of growth has slowed and much-needed international recruitment has been brought to a near standstill by the pandemic. 
‘Stress, absenteeism and turnover remain alarmingly high among nurses and midwives. The pressure on health and care staff has been compounded by Covid-19, which has underlined longer-term issues including chronic excessive workload, inadequate working conditions, bullying, staff burnout and inequalities, particularly among minority ethnic groups.

‘As well as efforts to recruit more staff, the government, NHS and other care providers need to renew their focus on retention and creating environments where nurses and midwives can flourish. Specific measures should include new minimum standards to improve working conditions and an urgent review into the practice of 12-hour shifts and their impact on staff wellbeing and quality of care.

‘Severe staff shortages have dogged the NHS and social care for many years and have been exacerbated by poor national workforce planning. As we emerge from the pandemic, there is an urgent need for a fully funded workforce plan that addresses staff shortages, tackles staff stress and burnout and recognises the impact of the past year on staff wellbeing.’

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.