The NHS is "haemorrhaging" staff with 1 in 10 nurses leaving the NHS in England each year, official figures show.
NHS Digital figures that show 1 in 10 nurses are leaving the NHS in England each year, with more than 33,000 leaving last year alone.
The news comes amid an ongoing winter crisis, where NHS trusts have taken the extraordinary measures of asking for the assistance of medical students and turning to social media in order to plead staff to work.
This officially means that more nurses are now leaving the profession than joining.
Nurse leaders said it was a "dangerous and downward spiral", but NHS bosses said the problem was being tackled by adding extra routes into nursing, with the expansion of Nursing Apprenticeships and Nursing Associates.
The RCN has described the figures as “disappointing, but not surprising” and said short-sighted cuts to nurse training places mean the next generation of British nurses aren’t coming through, just as the most experienced nurses are becoming demoralised and leaving.
Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive, said:
“Most patient care is given by NHS nurses and, each time the strain ratchets up again, they are the ones who bear the brunt of it.”
“We already know there are 40,000 unfilled nurse jobs in England and things continue to head in the wrong direction. There cannot be safe care for patients while the Government continues to allow nursing on the cheap.”
Sara Gorton, UNISON's Head of Health, said;
“The pressure on the NHS is at an all time high. It’s highly damaging that so many nurses are leaving the NHS so soon after qualifying. But new recruits are quickly realising that the demands placed on them are unrealistic and overwhelming.
“More experienced nurses are also leaving due to heavy workloads and the ongoing pay restraint, which has left them feeling unvalued and taken for granted for too long.
“The government needs to ensure nursing is an attractive career option by supporting new recruits, and rewarding those currently doing the job.”
Unions have called on ministers to make an urgent investment in services and those who provide them – including giving nurses a meaningful pay rise above inflation this year, increase the number of training places and support career development.