Number of nurses working in the UK rises by 30,000 to the highest level on record, but industry leaders warn that many are leaving the profession early due to burnout or exhaustion
- There are now 788,638 nurses, midwives and nursing associates across the UK
- But Royal College of Nursing warned NHS was ‘over-reliant’ on foreign workers
The number of nurses working in the UK has risen to the highest level on record, figures show today.
There are now 788,638 nurses, midwives and nursing associates registered to work in the UK, accounting for around 1.2 per cent of the population.
To the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), publishing the figures, welcomed the rise of more than 30,000 in a year but issued a stark warning about the number leaving the profession early.
The NMC pointed to ‘worrying findings’ from its leavers’ survey which indicate that many decided to leave the profession due to burnout or exhaustion, concerns about the quality of people’s care, workload or staffing levels.
Just over half of leavers (52 per cent) told the NMC they stopped work ‘earlier than planned’ in 2022.
(Stock Photo) There are now 788,638 nurses, midwives and nursing associates, accounting for around 1.2 per cent of the population, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council
They also revealed that more than half of the new registrants are trained overseas, leading the Royal College of Nursing to warn the NHS has become ‘over-reliant’ on unsustainable foreign recruitment.
The union has began balloting its almost 300,000 members on new strike action as it pursues a new ‘double-digit’ pay deal from ministers.
RCN chief executive Pat Cullen said: ‘With half of all new starters coming from overseas, it is clear the government’s failure to deliver a domestic workforce plan is hitting home.
‘While internationally educated nursing staff are a vital and valued part of the NHS, the overreliance on staff from overseas, including those countries with shortages of their own, is not sustainable.’
There were a record 52,148 new joiners last year, according to the NMC’s latest report, and almost half of these have trained overseas.
The NMC said that professionals educated around the world now account for one in five nurses, midwives and nursing associates who can practise in the UK.
Wes Streeting MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, accused the government of ‘poaching staff’ from countries with their own shortages, adding that Labour would ‘foster the homegrown talent the NHS needs… paid for by abolishing non-doms’.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘We’re on track to deliver 50,000 more nurses by next year, with almost 43,000 more working in the NHS compared to September 2019.