The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has released a report which says that 43,000 young nurses in the UK have left their job during the last five years.
Commons reasons for leaving include stress, burnout, inability to deliver adequate care, poor workplace culture, the pandemic and being underpaid.
The report, called Valuing Nursing in the UK, concludes that better pay, improved opportunities to reach leadership roles, and career progression are all important for retaining young nurses.
The RCN said the loss of nurses aged 21 to 50 and midwives was “extremely concerning”.
General secretary of the RCN Pat Cullen said: “That nurses aren’t just choosing to retire early but are quitting, and not just the NHS but the profession entirely, when they’re only a few years into their career, is deeply worrying. It speaks volumes about the dire state that ministers have allowed nursing to fall into through years of underfunding and neglect. The prime minister needs to get round the negotiating table and offer a fair pay rise to stop the exodus.”
The report has been released against a backdrop of the RCN threatening to escalate the industrial action, with staff from emergency departments, intensive care and cancer wards expected to take part in the next round of industrial action.
Dates for the next strikes by nurses in England are expected to be announced within days, with the action expected to take place within a couple of weeks. The RCN is understood to be considering action across three separate days and throughout the night.
The strikes, which would probably have the biggest impact on patients so far, could be compounded if junior doctors also vote to strike from next month, said NHS Providers, which represents NHS bosses.
The RCN has demanded a 19% pay rise for this year, but has said it will call off action if ministers prove willing to discuss matching the 7% offer made by the Welsh government.
Nurses in England have so far been given 4%, as recommended by the NHS pay review body, and ministers have refused to offer more.