Nurse shortage likely to continue, experts warn

A number of health experts have warned that the shortage of nurses in the UK could continue to worsen, after statistics have been published by the Institute for Employment Studies for the Migration Advisory Committee.

The report cited an ageing workforce, poor planning by government and potential risks from Brexit as key contributors to a possible long-term nursing shortage. The report’s publication was initially put on pause during the EU referendum, and its recent publication has only now unveiled the full scale of the problem.

The study highlighted that the NHS was already short of nurses with one in 10 posts remaining unfilled. It explained that as one in three nurses were already over the age of 50, the NHS would soon be facing a retirement timebomb and warned it would not have the nurses to plug the gaps.

Rachel Marangozov, author of the report, said: “The government needs to act now to ensure that the UK has a domestic supply of nurses to fill these future posts. This will require adequate and sustained investment in workforce planning.”

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: "This report makes sobering reading and it is clear that without urgent action the UK is heading for a major nursing shortage.

"Thanks to years of short-term thinking, the UK is completely unprepared to deal with the challenges posed by an ageing workforce, increasing demand and now the uncertainty caused by leaving the EU."

A spokesman for the Department of Health in England argued: "As the Health Secretary has already said, EU workers are a crucial part of our NHS and the training and retention of home-grown nurses is a top priority for this government."

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