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Credit crunch could give nursing appeal and stop a recruitment crisis

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The credit crunch could inadvertently prevent a nursing recruitment crisis in the UK according to experts

The current economic downturn could inadvertently prevent an anticipated shortage of nurses in the UK, a workforce expert has said.

Young people are more likely to see the NHS and the public sector as attractive career options because of protected pensions and availability of work compared to the independent sector, according to James Buchan, professor of health and social sciences at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh.

He said: ‘The last time we had a recession, there was evidence of more people joining the profession.’

His comments followed the latest report from the NHS Workforce Review team, which predicted that there would be a shortfall of 25,000 whole-time equivalent nurses in 2016 (NT News, 30 September, p3).

Professor Buchan added that the trend of people entering nursing in their 30s could change. ‘The people more likely to
go into nursing training will be those early in their careers,’ he said.

‘Maybe three or four years ago they would be thinking about working in banks - but now that is less of an option and they may be more likely to consider nursing.’

He added: ‘The move to an all-graduate nursing profession could make it more attractive if it is seen as a degree-level subject.’

However, in the short term, evidence supplied by unions to the NHS Pay Review Body is likely to argue that worsening economic conditions could make nursing less appealing because low pay rates are not keeping pace with living costs.

An exclusive NT survey of 1,200 nurses suggests that nurses are being hit by rising costs of living, with one-quarter having increased their bank hours and one in seven taking an extra job.

Louise Reynolds, a newly qualified paediatric nurse, said: ‘I still think nursing is a very attractive option and is far more stable [than other jobs]. Normally employers will contract you for at least18 months and they are always short of staff.’

See Feature ‘How nurses are coping with the cost of living’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I am all for people joining the nursing profession if that's really the job they want to do with passion and to the highest of standards. whilst I am sorry for individuals suffering financial hardship due to the economic state of the country, It would be a great shame for anyone to join the nursing profession just for the money! Nursing is not easy money.

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