NEW DATA from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) shows that acceptances onto nursing courses are down 13 per cent across the UK. This follows an overall decline in students applying to study nursing.
The decline in acceptances on to nursing courses in each of the UK nations varies. In England, acceptances are down 13 per cent from last year; in Northern Ireland they are down six per cent; Scotland has seen a 17 per cent decline; and in Wales acceptances are down by 11 per cent.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says the figures call into question the credibility of the NHS workforce plan in England released last month. According to the Health Foundation, the plan, which made commitments to increasing the nursing workforce in England, requires nursing and midwifery training intakes to increase by about 32,000 by 2031-32.
RCN Deputy Director for Nursing Dr Nichola Ashby said: “Being a nurse is one of the greatest careers any student can choose. But during a cost-of-living crisis, they’re being put off by the prospect of debt, low salaries and poor working conditions.
“The UK government has stumbled at the first hurdle of its NHS workforce plan, with 13 per cent fewer people expected to take up nursing courses this year. These numbers are not just a sad story for today, but a story for years to come of how ministers baked future nursing shortages into the NHS.
“If the NHS workforce plan is to succeed, the UK government must start providing details on how the plan will begin to deliver the students the NHS needs to see for the future workforce. It must fund more university places for nursing students and remove the burden of student debt and tuition fees from prospective nurses in England.”
RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen, said: “It is deeply concerning to see the number of people applying to study nursing falling again – a clear result of the way the profession has been treated by those in power.
“Compared to last year, this year has seen 17 per cent fewer people living in the UK applying to nursing courses, and a drop of just over a quarter since the pandemic saw a surge in applications in 2021.
“The nursing workforce remains in crisis, with record numbers forced to take time off due to stress and exhaustion and thousands leaving the profession every year. Now we are seeing this failure to invest in the workforce of today is putting off the nurses of tomorrow.”
* Source: Royal College of Nursing