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Responding to the publication today of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s annual registration figures, James Buchan, senior fellow at the Health Foundation, said: 

‘It’s positive that the total number of nurses and midwives on the register increased by over 30,000 in the year to March 2023. However, with over 43,000 nurse vacancies in NHS trusts in England alone, recruiting and retaining sufficient nurses remains critical to addressing the NHS workforce crisis. 

‘Almost half of the new nurses and midwives joining the register in the last year were educated outside the UK, which once again reinforces how reliant we have become on recruitment from abroad to tackle domestic shortages. The number of new international registrants is now at its highest point in over three decades. This continued reliance on international “quick fix” recruitment carries the risk that the UK is not investing in its domestic supply of nurses. It is also striking that one in 10 of all the new registrants are from World Health Organisation ‘red list’ countries that experience severe staffing shortages, such as Nigeria and Ghana -  a tenfold increase from four years ago, where red list countries accounted for just 1% of new registrants. 

‘The NMC’s survey of people leaving the register also paints a concerning picture, with over half of respondents saying they are leaving the profession earlier than planned, pointing to burnout, lack of support and high workload as contributing factors. 

‘In order to retain existing nurses, and train and recruit the skilled professionals we need, a fully funded long term workforce plan for the NHS and social care is urgently needed and long overdue.’

Media contact
Creina Lilburne
020 7664 4647

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