NHS 'forced to rely on more agency nurses'

The NHS will be forced to rely on more agency nurses to pick up shifts to plug the gap caused by cuts to training places for student nurses, experts have warned.

Read: NHS staff feel 'taken for granted'

Nurses
More foreign nurses will need to be drafted in to cope with the void in trained staff. Credit: PA

More foreign nurses will also be drafted in to help the NHS cope with a trained staff shortage, which will only "get worse" before it gets better, warns the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

In 2009/10 training places hit a high of 20,829 places, but in 2012/13 the figures dipped to 17,219 places, an RCN spokesman said.

While the number of places have been on the rise since then, the full effect of the fall in numbers will only be seen in the next year or two as thousands of fewer students graduate than usual, the spokesman said.

And to fill the gap the health service will have to examine more costly options including paying for expensive agency staff and recruiting from abroad, he said.

Read: NHS watchdog warns over nurse-patient ratios

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NHS will be 'forced to rely on more agency nurses'

NHS nursing is struggling so much under the strain of cuts that it will be forced to rely on more and more agency nurses to plug the gaps, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.