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Future challenges for nursing

28 October 2021
Volume 30 · Issue 19

Nurses and midwives account for 50% of the global health workforce and represent good value for money (World Health Organization (WHO), 2020). Lower nurse staffing levels in hospitals are associated with worse patient outcomes (Ball et al, 2014). Despite this, 1 in every 8 nursing posts remain unfilled, with 43 000 vacancies in England alone (NHS Digital, 2019). WHO (2020) estimates that to meet the Sustainable Development Goals on health and wellbeing, the world will need an additional 9 million nurses and midwives by 2030.

Furthermore, nursing is becoming increasingly complex, with pressures on service provision exacerbated by the pandemic, and patients living longer with multiple and complex comorbidities. Some 10% of the current nursing workforce are considering leaving the profession, with newly qualified and nurses nearing retirement more likely to leave (Health Education England, 2014). An anecdotal increase in the number of applicants applying to study nursing may go some way to address the problem. However, universities are limited in the number of applicants because of placement availability and staff to provide mentorship. Potential solutions can be explored through a range of different perspectives.

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