Worrying new figures published today reveal an increase in the number of nurses and midwives leaving the professions, with 20% more people leaving between 2012/13 and 2016/17 than joining.
Figures published today by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) warn of an overall reduction in the numbers of nurses and midwives registered to work in the UK, while pressure on the health service continues to rise.
Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “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.”
UK nurses and midwives make up around 85% of the NMC’s register, with those in these groups far more likely to leave the register than those in others. Between 2016 and 2017, 45% more UK registrants left the register than joined it.
According to the data, the numbers of nurses and midwives leaving the register before retirement age is also increasing. Excluding those who retire, the average age of those leaving the register has fallen from an average of 55 years old in 2013 to 51 years of age in 2017.
The data also shows that rates of leaving are increasing across all age groups below 60 years of age, particularly those aged under 40.
Jackie Smith continued: “Nursing and midwifery are widely acknowledged to be ageing professions, with significant numbers on the register coming up to retirement age. While there’s no denying this is true, our figures show that people below retirement age are leaving in increasing numbers.”
The new figures are likely to increase pressure on the UK Government to lift the 1% public sector pay cap, as a growing number of Tory frontbenchers lobby PM Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond to reconsider the cap.