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Stormy waters ahead for recruitment of nurses and midwives

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has warned that while there are record numbers of registered professionals on its books, there could be ‘stormy waters ahead’.

The regulator’s annual registration data report to-date – shows the number of people on its permanent register has grown considerably, rising from 698,237 as at 1 April 2019 to 716,607 by 31 March 2020.

According to the NMC, this has driven primarily by those joining and staying from the UK and from countries outside Europe.

The NMC’s latest figures highlight an increase to the permanent register of 9,012 nurses and midwives from the UK.

The number of people leaving the register from the UK has also fallen to a five-year low of 21,306 compared with a peak of 29,434 in 2016-17.

At the same time, the number of nurses and midwives on the NMC’s permanent register from outside Europe has risen by 11,008.

This increase has been driven by a surge of first-time joiners, rising from 6,157 to 12,033 during the last 12 months.

Almost half of the permanent register’s total growth comes from people who originally trained in the Philippines and India.

Numbers of registered professionals from these two countries who are now registered to work in the UK rose from a combined total of 48,359 in March 2019 to 57,303 in March 2020 – an increase of 8,944.

The NMC also invited a sample of more than 6,000 people to take part in a small survey to find out reasons why they had left the NMC’s permanent register.

Although it was carried out before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, the survey findings show the top reason cited for leaving after retirement was too much pressure leading to stress and/or poor mental health.

‘Covid-19 has meant the vital skills, specialism and resilience of our nursing and midwifery professionals have never been more publicly recognised and valued. It’s therefore great to celebrate record numbers of people on the NMC register,’ said chief executive and registrar, Andrew Sutcliffe.

‘However, while the increased figures from within the UK and overseas are very welcome for everyone working in and using health and care services, there are potential stormy waters ahead.

‘As a result of the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions, we may no longer be able to rely on the flow of professionals joining our register from overseas in the same way. Going forwards, the significant growth we’ve seen recently may not be sustained,’ she added.

‘Nor can we afford to ignore existing pressures, exposed and exacerbated by Covid-19, which may challenge employers’ ability to retain our essential nursing and midwifery professionals as health and care services seek to recover.’

Photo Credit – DarkoStojanovic (Pixabay)

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