The variety of college students accepted on to nursing programs in has declined by greater than 13% in contrast with the yr earlier than, the second successive steep fall, figures Labour mentioned had been “extremely regarding” for the way forward for the NHS.
As of 23 August, 15,420 college students had obtained locations on nursing programs in England, 13.1% fewer than the 17,750 who gained a spot in 2022, evaluation of Ucas knowledge by the Home of Commons Library confirmed.
The 2022 complete was itself 9.1% decrease than the 19,520 in 2021.
Whereas Labour mentioned the decreases represented a major downside for future nursing numbers amid a wider downside of recruitment and retention, the Division of Well being and Social Care (DHSC) mentioned the falls had been within the context of a very excessive quantity of purposes in the course of the Covid pandemic, when numbers rose virtually 20% in 2020 and simply over 11% in 2021.
The NHS workforce plan for England, which was launched in June, set out proposals to recruit 170,000 extra nurses by 2036-37, together with growing the variety of nursing diploma college students by greater than a 3rd inside 5 years, with a 40% rise in nursing affiliate coaching locations over the identical interval.
Vacancies for NHS nurses have elevated by 10% in a yr to greater than 43,000, statistics revealed this month have proven, at a time when the career faces crises over office pressures and pay which have prompted a collection of strikes.
Wes Streeting, the shadow well being secretary, mentioned: “There is no such thing as a NHS with out its unimaginable nurses, who go above and past to look after us all. These figures are extremely regarding for the way forward for the well being service.
“Conservative ministers compelled NHS nurses out on a nationwide strike for the primary time in historical past, after which accused them of doing Vladimir Putin’s bidding. The blame for the drop in purposes lies squarely with the federal government.”
The DHSC mentioned purposes remained greater than the pre-Covid complete of about 14,600 in 2019, and that many extra future nursing posts can be crammed by non-degree nursing affiliate roles.
A division spokesperson mentioned: “The most recent applicant numbers are nonetheless 12% greater than in 2019, following a surge of purposes in the course of the pandemic, with eligible college students receiving a coaching grant of at the least £5,000 a yr.
“There can be extra college students coming by way of clearing keen to start out careers in nursing, in addition to these coming by way of apprenticeship routes.
“We’ve made vital progress in rising the workforce, with document numbers of nurses and medical doctors working within the NHS. The primary ever NHS long-term workforce plan, backed by over £2.4bn in authorities funding, will additional enhance training and coaching, in addition to increasing apprenticeships and various routes into skilled roles.”