RCN warn numbers accepted onto nursing courses ‘nowhere near’ enough

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The number of students accepted on to undergraduate nursing courses in England is “nowhere near” the level needed to meet demand, the Royal College of Nursing has said.

Admissions figures show the number accepted on to courses in 2019 rose by 4% from last year, but is still less than 2016.

That year a bursary that covered the cost of tuition fees and living costs while on placement was removed, in reforms intended to boost places and increase the number of nursing students in England.

But the RCN said this had failed, with 1,360 fewer people accepted on to undergraduate nursing degree courses than in 2016.

There are almost 40,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS in England, without taking into account gaps in community and social care.

Dame Donna Kinnair (pictured), RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: “It is encouraging to see our future nurses being accepted on to courses and we look forward to welcoming them to the nursing workforce.

“The efforts of NHS England to attract more people into nursing is a positive step but today’s figures still show that there will still be fewer nurses than we need entering our understaffed health and care system on completion of their courses.

“If we are to boost the numbers needed to give patients the care they deserve we need to see decisive action through proper and sustained investment in our nurses of the future.”

The RCN is calling for at least £1 billion to be invested into nursing education annually, and workforce planning for future population needs.

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