Universities warned Cameron in 2011 that trainee cuts would cause nursing shortage

Ministers turned down pleas over many years and instead predicted over-supply of British nurses

Universities warned the government for years that they needed to train more nurses to avert a staffing crisis – but ministers repeatedly refused, saying nurses would end up unemployed, letters seen by the Guardian show.

Now there are 44,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS, and leaked government documents suggest this could reach 70,000 in five years. Universities say they have been unable to attract enough nursing trainees since the bursary for nursing degrees was abolished in 2017. The Conservatives’ manifesto proposals to attract 50,000 new nurses (although 19,000 of those are already working but at risk of leaving) will be unachievable, they say, without a more radical plan.

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