Record number of nurses working in UK but pressure on staff could see numbers drop

20 May 2021, 11:43 | Updated: 20 May 2021, 12:56

A rise in NHS workers could soon fall as a result of added stress working throughout the pandemic
A rise in NHS workers could soon fall as a result of added stress working throughout the pandemic. Picture: PA

By Emma Soteriou

The number of nurses and midwives working in the UK is at a new high, but added pressure on frontline staff could see more leave the profession, the nursing regulator has warned.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said more should be done to tackle the "negative workplace culture" and address the pressure staff face.

An annual report of the NMC's register showed that in the year to 31 March there was a record number of nurses and midwives on the register - almost 732,000.

NMC chief executive and registrar, Andrea Sutcliffe, said: "There's no doubt this has been a year unlike any other.

"It's been difficult and, at times, traumatic for our incredible nursing and midwifery professionals, who've worked tirelessly to continue to care for people in the most challenging of circumstances.

"Given the impact of the pandemic, it's great our register has continued to grow and, overall, today's report paints a picture of cautious optimism."

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Jenny McGee resigned from the NHS, after criticising the way the government dealt with the pandemic
Jenny McGee resigned from the NHS, after criticising the way the government dealt with the pandemic. Picture: PA

This comes after the nurse who cared for Prime Minister Boris Johnson in intensive care - Jenny McGee - resigned.

Ms McGee told Channel 4: "I don't know how much more I've got to give to the NHS. We're not getting the respect and now pay that we deserve."

Meanwhile earlier in the year, the government revealed that NHS workers would receive a one per cent increase in pay.

Read more: 'You can't fix NHS if you ignore social care', Jeremy Hunt tells LBC

Read more: NHS England waiting list reaches record high

However, there could also be a rise in retirees after the pandemic, with many delaying leaving to help on the frontline.

A poll of 5,639 nurses who left the NHS between July 2019 and June 2020 revealed that the most common reason for leaving was retirement.

There are more than 154,000 nurses and midwives over the age of 56 on the register - including almost 60,000 aged 61 to 70 and 3,380 aged over 71.

Data also showed 22.7 per cent said they left due to "too much pressure", which led to stress and poor mental health.

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