Nursing application numbers rise by 4% but remain ‘at crisis point’

Despite a small increase, the number of applications remains down by 29% overall.

Ian Snug
13 July 2019
university lecture

There has been a small rise in the number of student applications in England.

Figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show a small rise in the number of student applications in England.

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The number of applications to undergraduate nursing degree courses has risen by 4% in last year with 36,810 people applying in 2019.

Despite a small increase, the number of applications remains down by 29% overall since 2016, the year in which the bursary, which covered the cost of training to be a nurse, was removed.

This represents an overall fall of 15,030 applications since the change in student funding.

The Royal College of Nursing has warned that unless there is an urgent commitment to invest at least £1billon into nursing higher education the Long-Term plan for the NHS will not be able to succeed.

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On Tuesday, Matt Hancock told the Health and Social Care Select Committee that he is looking at the overall shortage and that incentives are needed, specifically for shortages in areas like mental health, community and mature students.

We cannot continue as we are.

Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Dame Donna Kinnair, said: “We need to see a much bigger increase if we are to have the number of nurses we need to sustain health and care services and give patients the care they deserve.

“At the moment, with experienced nurses leaving the workforce due to the pressures generated by the shortage, at best we are papering over the cracks.

“We need to see a sustained investment to grow the supply of our future nurses and the urgent delivery of a long-term plan for the staff of the NHS. We cannot do this without a massive increase in the amount of Government funding to incentivise people to study to become nurse and to support them when they are in full time clinical placements.

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“Ministers must stop leaving it all to chance. The Secretary of State told the Health and Social Care Select Committee he is looking at financial incentives but this should not be limited as he described.

“The scale of the challenge facing us means he needs to offer more support to large numbers of would-be nurses.

“What we cannot do is continue as we are. We know patient care is suffering and the staffing crisis simply has to be addressed.”

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