Nursing shortfall in England expected to be 51k by 2021, says study

9 Nov 18

Nursing staff shortages could soar to 51,000 by the end of the Brexit transition period, a study has found.

A shortfall of between 5,000 to 10,000 nurses in the NHS in England has been forecast, in research commissioned by the Cavendish Coalition, a group of health and social care organisations.

This would bring the total number of shortages, which currently stands at 41,000, to 51,000 – enough to staff 45 hospitals, the research, carried out by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research by 2021 has found. 

Danny Mortimer, co-convenor of the coalition and chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “These startling figures should be taken extremely seriously by those negotiating our departure from the EU.

“The health and social care sector is deeply reliant on talented colleagues from across Europe and the rest of the world so it is deeply disheartening to see these projected workforce gaps at a time of rising demand for services.”

The coalition, made up of 36 health and social care organisations, said that the sector relies heavily on staff from the European Economic Area and the rest of the world.

In the UK, more than 5% of the regulated nursing profession, 16% of dentists, 5% of allied health professionals and around 9% of doctors were from inside the EEA, but since the referendum the NHS has seen less nurses joining from EEA.

In the 12 months since the referendum, before the UK has formally left the bloc, the number of EEA nurse joiners to the NHS in England fell by 17.6% while the number of leavers rose by 15.3%, the study said.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We greatly value the contribution of nurses to the NHS and we hope those from the EU will take up the early opportunity to secure their future in the UK.”

A Nursing Standard magazine and Health Foundation think-tank report, published in September, found that one if four student nurses are dropping out of their degrees.

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