The number of nurses joining the health service will need to double just to maintain existing staff levels, nursing leaders have warned.
With an ageing nurse workforce and growing unhappiness among some working in the NHS, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the next government would have to take action to keep numbers up.
They warned that despite the high-profile recruitment push, nurses were still leaving in their thousands.
The RCN published a report – UK Nursing Labour Market Commentary 2004/05 – at the start of its annual congress in Harrogate.
It states that the current net loss for 2004-2005 in England is estimated at around 15,000 nurses, but this is predicted to rise to 25,000 by 2015.
This means that new entrants to the register will need to double by 2014 just to keep the workforce constant.
Looking at the UK as a whole, this would mean that about 66,000 new entrants would be needed by 2014.
The RCN called for a sustained focus on the recruitment and retention of nurses.