The University of East Anglia (UEA) has said it will no longer provide its learning disability nursing degree due to a shortage of applicants as the number of nurses working in the profession reaches a record high.
Students currently enrolled in the undergraduate program will be able to graduate and register as Learning Disability Nurses with the NMC, but no further cohorts will be recruited.
Professor Sally Hardy, Dean of Health Sciences at UEA, said the School of Health Sciences leadership team made the “difficult decision” to stop offering the course due to “a year of low application experience Numbers’.
It comes as the latest figures from NHS Digital show the number of learning disabled nurses working in the NHS in England is at an all time high – at 3,109 in July 2021, up from 3,453 in the same month in 2016, five years ago, and 4,757 the same month ten years ago.
Professor Hardy added that UEA “actively pursues other avenues and opportunities” to ensure that health and social service personnel are “equipped with the skills to expertly care for people with learning disabilities and their families”. More details will be released when possible.
She continued, âWe remain committed and passionate about ensuring that people with learning disabilities and their caregivers receive the right support and lead valued lives and we will pursue other strategies to educate and inform professionals and caregivers about the best way to meet the needs.
The RCN urged the government in June this year to “urgently redouble its efforts” to recruit nurses with learning disabilities, as a staff shortage could put lives at risk.
People with learning disabilities are more likely to have serious health problems, such as congenital heart disease or respiratory disease, and to die about 25 years earlier than the general population. They were also up to six times more likely to die from Covid in the first wave of the pandemic.