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Following the revelation that numbers of students applying to study university nursing programmes has fallen 8% since 2016, it has become clear that the profession faces a significant staffing crisis.

The reduction in the number of people applying to join the profession is largely down to the removal of the nursing bursary in August 2017, in favour of a loans system. Questions now have to be asked whether the NHS is prepared for a wider recruitment and retention crisis as health workers continue to cite stress levels, burnout and lack of support as reasons for quitting.

The Royal College of Nursing has issued a strongly worded response to the falling numbers, with outgoing Chief Executive Janet Davies stating “Failure to address these problems will have lasting consequences for patients. Ministers should know better than to ignore the advice of experts.”

But what do nurse practitioners think about the recruitment crisis?

We’ve been speaking with our community of nurses and you’ve shared your thoughts for how we can continue to encourage people of all ages to join the nursing profession.

Here’s what you had to say about the issue…


“Provide bursaries and bring back the diploma” Stuart, Manchester

“Invite young people for group visits to hospitals, clinics, GP surgeries. Let them get a feel for the role, in real life. Sell the job for what it is.” Sandra, Liverpool

“By offering more training and career progression. Small things like offering free fruit and veg could help to keep people interested. We need to care if the nurse is fatigued or burned out.” Tim, Brighton

“Offer opportunities for learning, open up more community roles rather than rigidly sticking to the ward and offer more flexible working arrangements from the start, not just after lengthy ‘qualifying periods” Lynne, North Queensferry

“More practical learning experience & increase in wages” Tom, Liverpool

“Nursing bursary, training incentives, offer better support to nursing staff 'on the ground' particularly new qualified staff” Ashleigh, Glasgow

“By focussing upon the characteristics of great nurses and the sense of achievement that comes from doing truly meaningful and socially important work.” Stuart, Workington

“Keep the regulations tight but remove a lot of the political correctness. Pay the nurses what they are worth and for goodness sake bring back the bursary.” Martin, Blackpool

What do you think should be done to prevent the recruitment and retention crisis from escalating? Is it as simple as just re-introducing the bursary? Let us know your thoughts using the comments box below
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