Large numbers of NHS nurses are quitting because of staff shortages and poor pay, it is claimed today.
Britain’s top nurse Janet Davies spoke out as it emerged the health service faced an “unprecedented” crisis with the number of unfilled posts doubling in three years to 40,000.
It comes as new polling suggests major public concern for hospital safety with seven in 10 people believing nurses are underpaid and similar numbers saying there are not enough of them.
The NHS is "haemorrhaging" nurses with one in 10 now leaving the NHS in England each year, figures show.
More than 33,000 walked away last year, piling pressure on understaffed hospitals and community services.
The figures - obtained by the BBC from NHS Digital - represent a rise of 20% since 2012-13, and mean there are now more leavers than joiners.
Nurse leaders said it was a "dangerous and downward spiral", but NHS bosses said the problem was being tackled.
New figures that we’ve published today show an increase in the number of nurses and midwives leaving our register while at the same time, numbers joining have slowed down. This has resulted in an overall reduction in the numbers of nurses and midwives registered to work in the UK.
Recently public attention has focused on the reducing number of EU nurses and midwives joining our register. But today’s figures show that it is mainly UK nurses and midwives who are leaving the register, resulting in the overall downward trend.
A huge majority of NHS workers say they are worried about staffing levels, according to new survey findings that suggest a dangerous level of under-resourcing in the health service.
Four-fifths (80%) of respondents – which included nurses, doctors and managers – have raised concerns about there not being enough staff on duty to give patients safe and high-quality care. More than half of those (59%) said no action was taken, despite their unease being voiced.