Nursing applications up by almost a third in England

18 February 2021, 07:24

Nursing applications have risen by almost a third
Nursing applications have risen by almost a third. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Nursing applications have soared by nearly a third over the past year, new UCAS data suggests.

More than 60,000 people have applied to study nursing from Autumn of 202, an increase of almost a third (32 per cent) on the previous year.

Data shows that interest has increased across all age groups, with a new high of 16,560 school leavers opting to study nursing - an increase of 27 per cent from last year.

And or the first time ever more than 10,000 applications were made my mature students looking to study the profession - an increase of 39 per cent.

This new levels of interest from applicants of all ages could not have come at a better time, according to industry professionals, with Ruth May, chief nursing officer for NHS England.

She described the latest figures as "incredible and great news for the public and the health service".

Experts have said the pandemic has encouraged people to start a nursing career
Experts have said the pandemic has encouraged people to start a nursing career. Picture: PA

"The so-called 'nightingale effect' has seen interest in the NHS trumping lots of other careers and that speaks volumes about how people recognise our profession particularly following our most challenging year," she said.

"From speaking to young people, schools are seeing how the pandemic has redefined and elevated the status of nursing."

Read more: Lockdown driving down coronavirus rates but they remain high, study finds

Read more: PM to receive new vaccine data this week as he considers easing lockdown

Careers consultant Susan Smith said the pandemic has created a distinct shift to a focus on nursing rather than being a doctor.

"Students have been clapping on their doorsteps and watching news reports that show nurses are equal to, if not more than doctors as the heroes of the NHS and indeed this country," she said.

"The status of being a nurse has risen exponentially amongst young people and it is now seen as having the same impact and importance as doctors."

Although the latest figures from UCAS have been welcomed by experts, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warns numbers are "still not at the scale needed".

Mike Adams, RCN director for England, said whilst the numbers are encouraging, tens of thousands of nursing jobs are still vacant.

He said that every qualified candidate "needs to be supported through their education into the right job" and called for them to be given a pay rise which "properly reflects their skills".

Professor Mark Radford, chief nurse of Health Education England, said it would work with universities to welcome and support thousands of new recruits to embark on this "amazing and truly rewarding career".