Health

Rise in number of registered nurses and midwives

The number of registered nurses and midwives in the north has increased by more than 700 in a year

THE number of registered nurses and midwives in the north has increased, but a large number are also leaving the profession, new figures show.

Statistics from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), reveal that as of March 31 the number of people on its register had grown by to 26,854 – an increase of 703 on the previous year.

However, hundreds of nurses and midwives also left the register.

A total of 865 left last year - 21 per cent more than in 2020/2021 when 716 left. Of those who left, 34 per cent said the pandemic influenced their decision.

Around 20 per cent cited "too much pressure" as one of their top three reasons for leaving - the highest proportion in the UK.

While the number of nurses and midwives leaving the register increased, the number of people joining for the first time also rose.

A total of 1,120 people joined the register in the last year - an eight per cent rise on the 1,039 people who joined in the previous year.

More than 25,000 nurses and 1,200 midwives are registered to practise in Northern Ireland.

Miles Wallace, the Nursing and Midwifery Council's lead director for NI, said the figures showed a mixed picture.

"Our data confirms a rise in the number of registered professionals in Northern Ireland, which is good news considering the pressure that the pandemic has caused over the past two years," he said.

"On a more cautious note, the number of people leaving the register has also risen compared to last year, both in Northern Ireland and across the UK as a whole.

"And many leavers cited the pandemic and too much pressure as significant factors.

"I hope our data will help support long-term sustainable workforce planning in health and care services in Northern Ireland, for the benefit of our professionals and the public we all serve."

Last week, health minister Robin Swann announced a £2.1 million investment in education and training to increase the health service workforce.

The package included 1,335 nursing and midwifery university places for 2022/23.

According to a Department of Health workforce bulletin, published in February, there were 1,983 nursing vacancies and 120 midwife vacancies at the end of last year.

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