Navigating the Nursing Skill Shortage in 2024

Dec 18, 2023

Navigating the increasing nursing skill shortage can sometimes feel like a game of musical chairs, with healthcare organisations frantically racing to grab the best nursing talent before they all run out! The number of active job postings in the UK Healthcare sector jumped by over 165% in 2023 and this number is expected to keep growing.

So how can we best navigate the nursing workforce gap as we head into 2024? Fret not – we’ve put together all you need to know for the new year, including an overview of the current nursing landscape and our tips on how to move forward.

The Current Nursing Landscape

In 2023, the NMC’s register of nurses, midwives and nursing associates reached a record 808,488, up from just over 700,000 in 2022.

This growth, whilst extremely promising, also reflects the deepening challenge faced by UK healthcare organisations — more nurses are entering the field than ever before, yet the demand for healthcare services and specialised nursing skills continues to outstrip this supply.

The Talent Acquisition Challenge

As a result of the UK’s ageing population and the growing complexity of healthcare needs, attracting and retaining top nurses will be more challenging in 2024 than ever. The emotional and physical toll of the job, exacerbated by the aftermath of the pandemic, has led to burnout among existing staff – making retention even more of an uphill battle.

But the situation is far from the gloom and doom reported in news media. Under challenging circumstances, healthcare organisations have learned to embrace exciting new recruitment and retention approaches, from increased parental leave to pet-friendly policies, to help nurses feel as valued as they should be.

The Role of Early Career Support & Preceptorship

The NMC’s 2023 Spotlight on Nursing and Midwifery Report has emphasised the growing importance of preceptorship and strong support for new nurses in the workforce.

As the NMC states, “Research shows that poor preceptorship can negatively impact professionals’ psychological safety which can lead to people leaving the register earlier. High quality, early career support is therefore vital, so that professionals can flourish and provide the safe, kind, effective care the public need.’ In 2024, be sure to consider the support available to your junior and senior nurses – and that they’re aware of it!

Utilising Nursing Job Agencies for Locum Nurses

More organisations are turning to a nursing recruitment agency to hire locum nurses as a way to mitigate short-term staff shortages and ensure uninterrupted patient care.

The best agencies are experts in providing temporary staff, serving as crucial support for you during high-demand periods or unforeseen staffing gaps. In the coming year, integrating locum nurses into staffing plans will be key to sustaining excellent patient care amidst the constant ebb and flow of workforce needs!

Leveraging Technology in Recruitment

As we head into the new year, healthcare organisations can leverage the latest technological advancements in recruitment to engage with the best, widest pool of nursing talent. Digital platforms, AI-powered screening tools and virtual interviews are making it easier than ever to connect with candidates both in the UK and worldwide.

This approach not only streamlines the recruitment process – it also ensures a more diverse range of applicants. Want to learn more about how to best leverage technology for your recruitment efforts, from implementing ATS to social media advertising? See here for our top tips.

Focus on Diversity & Inclusion

By now, we’re all familiar with the importance of DEI. In 2024, it will be even more crucial to foster a workplace where nurses from all backgrounds feel valued and understood. This means implementing cultural competency training, recognising diverse holidays and practices and ensuring your policies are inclusive of all identities.

By embracing diversity, healthcare organisations can both better address the unique needs of their diverse patient and nurse populations – it’s a win-win.

The Rise of International Nurses

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of international nurses joining the UK healthcare workforce. In 2023 alone, 15,036 international nurses were registered – these nurses not only help fill critical gaps in staffing but also contribute to the cultural richness of healthcare teams. Looking to 2024, consider supercharging your team by recruiting more international nurses!

The Final Word

Here at WESolutions, we understand what it takes to succeed in the current nursing landscape, with expert knowledge of workforce trends and candidate motivators. As a specialist healthcare recruitment agency, we connect employers with the best international, permanent and locum nurses – so if you’re looking to fill a vacancy in your team, please don’t hesitate to reach out!