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Health service 'haemorrhaging' nurses, figures reveal

Health service 'haemorrhaging' nurses, figures reveal
From BBC - January 16, 2018

The NHS is "haemorrhaging" nurses with one in 10 leaving the NHS in England each year, figures show.

More than 33,000 walked away last year, piling pressure on understaffed hospital wards and community services.

The figures - provided to the BBC by NHS Digital - represent a rise of 20% since 2012-13, and mean there are now more leavers than joiners.

Nurse leaders said it was a "dangerous and downward spiral", but NHS bosses said the problem was being tackled.

The figures have been compiled as part of an in-depth look at nursing by the BBC.

We can reveal:

Other parts of the UK are also experiencing problems retaining nurses.

In Northern Ireland and Scotland, the leaver rates are rising. In the most recent years, 7.5% of nurses left NHS employment in Northern Ireland and 7.2% did so in Scotland. But in both nations, the number of joiners outnumbered leavers.

In Wales there were more leavers than joiners, according to Freedom of Information reports.

'I ca not work in the NHS any more'

One of the nurses who has left the NHS is Mary Trevelyan.

She was working as a staff nurse in a London hospital, but quit last year after the pressures of the job left her stressed and depressed.

She had only worked in the NHS for two-and-a-half years.

"I want to be a great nurse and I want to give my patients my best, but I feel that I ca not do that at the moment because we are just too short-staffed, too busy, there are far too many things for us to be doing.

"I want to work for the NHS, it's such a brilliant thing, [but] I do not think I can."

She is now living with her family in Cornwall. She says she has not decided what to do next, but is considering moving abroad.

"A few of my friends have gone. I think they have just got a better quality of life nursing overseas, which is very sad."

Where are the nurses going?

The figures do not show where these nurses went, although the BBC has been told the private sector, including agencies, drug firms and hospitals, is particularly popular.

But the figures will also include those moving abroad or leaving nursing altogether to pursue other careers.

A fifth of leavers in the past year were over 55 - the age at which nurses can start retiring on a full pension.

Royal College of Nursing head Janet Davies said: "The government must lift the NHS out of this dangerous and downward spiral.

"We are haemorrhaging nurses at precisely the time when demand has never been higher.

"The next generation of British nurses are not coming through just as the most experienced nurses are becoming demoralised and leaving."

She said nurses needed a pay rise and more support if the vacancy rate - currently running at one in nine posts - was not to increase further.

How the NHS is trying to stop the exodus

Does the leaver rate matter?

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