Tuesday, August 11, 1998 Published at 23:35 GMT 00:35 UK
Nursing fails to attract new recruits
Nurse: a dying breed?
Fewer people than ever are registering to become nurses, according to new figures which emphasise the depth of the recruitment crisis in the profession.
The worrying statistic comes just a week after it was revealed that the number of trainee nurses in England has declined by more than 8,000 over the past four years to 45,500.
A total of 16,382 people registered to become nurses, midwives and health visitors last year, compared with 17,984 the previous year, according to the figures from the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting. Of those, 4,300 were from abroad.
The UKCC said its figures also showed that more older people than ever before were in the profession - around 50% are aged 40 or more.
Christine Hancock, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "This is a double whammy for the government as it faces the worst crisis in nurse shortages for 25 years.
"Not only are people turning their back on entering the profession but the average age of existing nurses is rising."
Mr Dobson has set a target of an extra 15,000 trained nurses and 6,000 training places over the next three years.
Nurse salaries range between £12,855 to just over £17,000.
A phone poll of 500 nurses conducted by Nursing Standard magazine found that 72% said increased pay would solve the recruitment crisis.
Concern over pay far outstripped other issues, such as help with child care, flexible working and career development as the major worry of working nurses.
Poor track record
The Department of Health issued a statement which said: "The figures are low today because there was insufficient investment in nursing three years ago.
"It takes three years to train a nurse and the impact of increased investment in nurse training in recent years is not reflected in the latest UKCC statistics."
The government said in the years 2001 and 2002 there will be 18,700 training places, an increase of 73%.
It claimed that under the last government nurse training places had dropped to 10,849 in the years 1994 and 1995.