Why are nurses in demand?
The UK’s population is both growing and ageing. Between 2015 and 2020, over a period when the general population is expected to rise 3%, the numbers aged over 65 are expected to increase by 12% (1.1 million); the numbers aged over 85 by 18% (300,000); and the number of centenarians by 40% (7,000). Naturally, demand for nurses has increased and will continue to grow. In addition due to 2008’s financial crash, the number of nursing positions available within the NHS was cut and as a consequence less people trained to become nurses.
Traditionally, nurses could enter into training hospitals to begin their career and work their way up through hands-on experience. Since 2009, however, nurses have been required to complete a nursing degree. Though this still encompasses training in hospitals, it means an additional year or two of training and studying before students become qualified nurses and are able to work in the care and medical industry.
What is being done about the shortage?
In recent months it’s been decided that the bursaries for student nurses and midwives will be cut. In the past and up until August 2017, student midwives and nurses received full funding for their course but this limited the number of places available. The government is hoping that the change will open up opportunities for people getting onto courses and allow more people to train as nurses but bring them in line with the current loans, grants and bursaries used in relation to most courses.
According to the BBC, 69% of trusts are now attempting to recruit abroad because there are not enough nurses in the UK to meet the increasing demands. Unfortunately, the number of nurses applying for roles from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) has also dropped significantly since 2008, leaving a growing gap in our care system.
Which positions are most in demand?
It's safe to say most positions require more trained applicants but if you are undergoing training now, you might want to consider doing an extra year in a nursing speciality to increase your chances of landing a role when you graduate. Some areas that require additional training or qualifications are especially lacking applicants. These are some promoted by the Visa Bureau website:
Specialist Nurse in Operating Theatres
Operating Department Practitioner
Specialist Nurse Working in Neonatal Intensive Care Units
When will the situation get better?
There are so many factors which can impact the NHS at this time so it’s unlikely anyone will be able to predict what might happen to fill the void. With increasing opportunities for nurses to specialise and earn more hopefully we’ll see an increase in the amount of people looking study nursing and more university places will allow them to do so but we will have to wait and see.
If you’re a nurse and require nurse insurance, visit our medical indemnity insurance page to find out more.