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UK:Brexit Blamed As Nursing Numbers Fall For First Time In Years

Nigeria Student Forum / Education News / Nurses Arena / UK:Brexit Blamed As Nursing Numbers Fall For First Time In Years 248 Views

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The number of nurses and health visitors has fallen for he first time in four years, according to analysis by the leading independent health think-tank, the King’s Fund, which blamed Brexit for the drop.

In June 2016 there were 283,674 “full-time equivalent” nurses and health visitors employed by the NHS in England but in June this year there were 282,603 – a reduction of 1,071.



The King’s Fund said the figures were “worrying”, adding that having enough nurses was “essential” for delivering safe care for patients. It stressed that it was important to monitor year-on-year figures as there were annual seasonal fluctuations in the workforce.

The think-tank said the key factor in the fall has been a significant reduction in EU nurses joining the UK register since the referendum last June. Other reasons for the decline included changes to language testing requirements, together with an increasing number of EU staff leaving the NHS. The number of NHS staff leaving as a result of ill-health and work-life balance has also increased sharply over the last few years.

While the charity welcomed the Government’s recent announcement to increase nurse training places by 5,000 a year, it warned that it would take years for this to translate to more nurses on wards. Last week Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a 25 per cent increase in nurse training places to boost numbers of home-grown NHS staff as Britain leaves the EU. The additional 5,000 places will bring the number of undergraduate study opportunities to 25,850 in 2018/19. However, the Government’s decision to scrap bursaries for student nurses has already resulted in a 23 per cent reduction in successful applicants for nurse training places.

Safe care

Richard Murray, director of policy at The King’s Fund and who carried out the analysis, said: “There is good evidence that having enough nurses is essential for delivering safe care, and so it is worrying that the number of nurses is going down at a time when services are already overstretched and the demand for care is rising.

“This means the NHS is less equipped to cope with the demands of a winter that was already threatening to stretch the NHS to the limit. While last week’s announcement of an increase in nursing training places is welcome, it will take years for this to translate into extra nurses on the wards.

“Workforce planning has been neglected for too long in the NHS, and the fact that the EU referendum result appears to have tipped the balance highlights how fragile the workforce situation has become. A new workforce strategy is desperately needed.”

Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England, said the fall is “deeply worrying” as it comes as demand for care continues to grow.

She said: “Staff are overstretched and performance is slipping, a point underlined by the Care Quality Commission in its State of Care report. Patient safety is always the first priority for trusts, but this becomes much more difficult when staff are placed under intolerable pressure. It is becoming increasingly clear that concerns around Brexit are also adding to workforce pressures.”

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “A lethal cocktail of extreme pressure inside the NHS, a collapse in European nurses and falling pay levels left the profession demoralised and people heading for the door. The decline is a direct result of years of poor decisions and excessive cost-cutting. We need a new law that makes ministers and others accountable for proper workforce planning and safe and effective staffing levels.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow Health Secretary, said: “This new analysis exposes the government’s hollow promises on nurse recruitment. Far from delivering the nurses needed to keep patients on wards safe, nurse numbers are now in fact falling in our NHS.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “This analysis refers to overall numbers for nurses and health visitors – patients will be reassured to know that we actually have more nurses on our hospital wards since April 2016 not fewer, which alongside the biggest ever increase in nurse training places underlines our commitment to ensuring the NHS has the nurses it needs to provide the best possible care for patients, both now and in the future.

“There are also 3,193 more EU nationals working in the NHS than at the time of the referendum — we have been absolutely clear that they play a vital role in the NHS and want to see their excellent work continue long after the UK leaves the EU.”

Source : https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/health/kings-fund-nurse-numbers-fall-brexit-reason/

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