West Norfolk suffers 30% fall in applications to be a nurse
Applications to become a nurse in the North West Norfolk constituency have dropped by 30 per cent in just a year, new figures show.
It comes after the Government dropped the living support bursary for nursing students, with the Royal College of Nursing saying mature students have been hit particularly hard.
Across West Norfolk's two constituencies, the number also decreased.
RCN figures show that in 2017, just 35 people applied to start a nursing degree in North West Norfolk – down from 50 in 2016.
Of those who applied last year, 57.14 per cent were accepted onto a course. It means 20 people started to train for their qualifications, the same as the previous year.
Across the borough of West Norfolk, 85 people applied to start studying as a nurse last year, a 23 per cent drop on the previous year. Acceptances remained steady, at 50.
Nurses often continue to work locally, the RCN said, so a drop in applications in one area could point to future nursing staff shortages there.
In the South West Norfolk constituency (covering Downham and Thetford), there was a drop from 60 applications in 2016 to 50 last year. Acceptances stayed level at 30.
Nationally, 51,000 people submitted nursing applications last year - 12,000 fewer than in 2016.
The number of applications accepted, meanwhile, dropped only slightly. There were 28,140 people accepted onto courses in 2017, a 1% drop.
But hard-to-recruit areas, such as learning disability and mental health nursing, have been hit particularly hard by the drop in mature students, the RCN said.
Those aged over 25 are more likely to have care or family commitments, and struggle to take up study.
Dr Anne Corrin, head of professional learning and development at the RCN, said: “A drop in nursing students in key areas could spell disaster for patients in the local community.
"Nursing students often go on to work for local hospitals or other employers, and fewer students coming through will only worsen the recruitment crisis in the area.
“The number of unfilled nurse jobs is rising as the number in education falls, and whether it’s worried parents waiting hours in A&E or an older person who can’t be discharged, people know there are already not enough nurses to provide the care they want for themselves and their loved ones.
“But there is a way to solve to this. The Government must put at least £1bn a year back into nursing higher education as part of the Ten Year Plan for the NHS, and increase nurse numbers by offering the next generation of student nurses the support they desperately need.”