UCAS figures show a drop of 8% in applications to Nursing & Midwifery courses - Universities have turned to clearing to fill gaps.
Experts are warning that there will not be enough new healthcare staff being trained to keep pace with demand as UCAS, the University Admissions Service, figures showed that there had been an 8% drop in students who had been placed into university this year compared to 2016.
Universities have been forced to offer the, usually over-subscribed, Nursing, Midwifery and Medicine subjects to students going through clearing.
The figures also reveal the number of 'mature students', people aged over 25, who have been placed into nursing courses has decreased by 12% since 2016.
Despite the low number of applicants the government announced 10,000 extra 'funded' places and an additional 21,000 mental health professionals. Figures that the Royal College of Nursing have heavily criticised.
Janet Davis, RCN Chief Executive, said;
“The longstanding pay cap is driving people away from nursing, and understaffing heaps pressure on those who are left. Most worryingly, we don’t have enough nurses to guarantee patient safety,” she argued.
“The government has promised 10,000 more health care professionals in the next five years, but we need transparency over how it intends to monitor its progress.
“We are calling on the government to publish the actual number of nursing students starting this autumn by the end of this year.”
Official figures how that admissions to Nursing and Midwifery courses have consistently fallen since the removal of the NHS Student Bursary which combined with a significant drop in EU workers could lead to a staffing crisis for the NHS.
NHS Digital revealed last month that over 11,500 Nursing and Midwifery vacancies remain unfilled in England.