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Nurses leaving profession in thousands due to workplace pressures

More than 27,000 nurses left the nursing register this year due to workplace factors such as burnout, exhaustion, and concerns about staffing levels.

More than 27,000 nurses left the nursing register this year with a growing number due to workplace factors such as burnout, exhaustion, and concerns about staffing levels, according to new figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Of these, more than half left earlier than planned and almost a quarter left much earlier than they had expected to. Most said they were unlikely to return to the professions, including younger leavers.

It comes as the NMC announced that the number of nurses, midwives and nursing associates registered to practise in the UK has grown to a record total of 788,638.

Almost half (25,006) were internationally educated, while the number of UK educated joiners rose by 8.5% to more than 27,142.

Surge in international recruitment of nurses

The NMC said that increasing ethnic diversity of new nurses, midwives and nursing associates, whether educated at home or abroad, means the profile of the NMC register is changing. Over the past year the proportion of all registered professionals who are from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds has risen to 27.7% – more than a quarter of the register.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar, said: At a time of rising demand for health and care services, it’s welcome news that our register has grown to a record level, due to an increase in domestically educated joiners together with the ongoing surge in international recruitment.

“While recruitment remains strong, there are clear warnings about the workplace pressures driving people away from the professions. Many are leaving the register earlier than planned because of burnout or exhaustion, lack of support from colleagues, concerns about the quality of people’s care, workload and staffing levels.

“Our insight can support nursing and midwifery leaders across health and social care to focus on the right issues in their retention strategies. Addressing those issues must be a collaborative effort aimed at improving staff wellbeing and retention, for the benefit of everyone using services.”

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