Figures that show more people are leaving the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register for the first time in years, causing an overall drop in the number able to practise, are “concerning” and should prompt action across the NHS, the chief nursing officer for England has said.
CNO Jane Cummings said she was collaborating with colleagues “across the health service” to meet workforce challenges in a new role she has at NHS England that is aimed at tackling workforce issues.
“These figures are concerning and we should all reflect and take action across the NHS”
She said the NHS had laid a series of proposals in an operational plan published earlier this year to deliver changes in its Five Year Forward View.
This included introducing additional routes to become a graduate nurse, measures to improve retention - such as work to raise the profile of nursing - spreading best practice and the development of leadership opportunities.
“Supporting return to practice and flexible working is also key,” said Ms Cummings.
In a Nursing and Midwifery Council report published today it was revealed that poor working conditions, including inadequate staffing levels affecting the quality of care, are motivating more nurses and midwives to leave the register than join it for the first time in recent history.
Between 2016 and 2017, 20% more people left the register than joined it.
The regulator noted it was mainly UK nurses and midwives leaving the register that had caused it to shrink in size from 692,556 registrants in March 2016, to 690,773 in March 2017.
The overall reduction in nursing numbers is most noticeable in England as most registrants are based there but there is some evidence that the other UK countries are showing similar patterns.
“These figures are concerning and we should all reflect and take action across the NHS,” said the CNO in a statement provided to Nursing Times.
”As the new executive workforce lead at NHS England and CNO, I am working with colleagues across the health service to deliver a clear plan to meet our workforce challenges,” she added.