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‘Growing Numbers’ Of Midwives/Nurses Leaving The Profession

Posted: 10/07/2017

Businesses in the UK might well feel that now is an appropriate time to review and assess their emergency response planning procedures and health and safety policies given the fact that new research has just revealed that increasing numbers of both midwives and nurses are leaving the healthcare profession.

Figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have shown that the number of people leaving is in actual fact now outstripping those who are joining. Between 2016 and 2017, 20 per cent more left the NMC register than joined it – the first time this has happened in recent history.

In addition, the number of both nurses and midwives exiting the register before reaching retirement age also appears to be on the rise. Not including retirees, the average age of those leaving the register has fallen steadily from an average of 55 in 2013 to 51 in 2017.

Chief executive and registrar of the NMC Jackie Smith noted, that both nursing and midwifery are viewed as ageing professions and significant numbers of those who are on the register are now coming to retirement age. Yet these figures show that there are also those below the age of retirement who are leaving in growing numbers.

“Our figures today show for the first time that there are now more nurses and midwives leaving the register than joining it.

“At a time of increased pressure on the healthcare workforce to deliver quality patient care, we hope our data will provide evidence to support government and employers to look in detail at how they can reverse this trend,” she went on to say.

This comes as Downing Street signals that doctors, nurses and soldiers most likely won’t see a pay rise until April next year at the very earliest, with a spokesman from Number 10 saying that pay rates for professions such as these have been set at a below inflation capped level for the current financial year.

However, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt have all now joined forces to call for a change in public sector pay caps, arguing that the one per cent ceiling be lifted after the recent election disaster that Theresa May and the Conservatives had to face last month (June).

And it’s likely that the sector may struggle to recruit in the near future thanks to Brexit. Studies by the Health Foundation last month showed that there has been a 96 per cent drop in the number of EU nurses registering to practice in this country since July last year. A Freedom of Information request to the NMC showed that only 46 EU nurse registrants were seen in April 2017 – concerning since the UK has consistently used international recruitment as a way of filling staff shortages.

Since 2008, the majority of these international nurses registering to work here have come from within the EU. This drop in the number of registrants indicates that a more long-term approach to workforce planning in this particular sector is required as a matter of urgency.