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Government target of 50,000 new nurses needed as shortfall of nurses will impact adult social care

RCN issues 140K nurse shortfall warning

Without additional policy intervention and workforce planning, the nursing workforce will grow more slowly than it is currently or will decline, with a projected supply-demand gap of 140,600 nurses in the NHS in England by 2030/31, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

A new report, Investing in Patient Safety and Outcomes, suggests solutions, including a new student loan forgiveness scheme, government-funded tuition fees and living cost grants for nursing students.

The report warns that there will be 2,000 fewer nursing students graduating from education in 2025 than there are in 2024.

It also notes the Government’s failure to include the private sector in its recruitment policies and estimates that there has been a 6 per cent reduction in the social care nursing workforce during the past year, which compares to drops in the learning disability and school nursing, and health visitor workforce of -2.6 per cent, -2.3 per cent and -6.9 per cent respectively. According to Skills for Care there has been a 37 per cent reduction in the social care nursing workforce over the past 10 years.

It is the RCN’s view that the failure by successive UK governments to tackle the nursing workforce crisis in England has created “the greatest risk to publicly funded health and care services since their creation”.   

RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “In short, there is still no UK government-funded workforce plan. By refusing to pay nursing staff fairly, it is patient safety that pays the highest price.”   

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