HOSPITAL chiefs are hoping to hang onto their nurses – as campaigners warn of a rise in nurses giving up the job.

Bosses at the Great Western Hospital say they are making “good progress” in recruiting permanent staff.

It comes as the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) warns that 35,363 nurses dropped off the nursing register in the last year – a jump of 13 per cent compared to 2015/16.

The NMC – the official body with whom nurses must register if they want to work in the UK – say the figures shine a light on the “major challenges” faced by the health sector.

In Swindon, directors at the GWH have made concerted efforts to recruit extra nurses – with gaps plugged by agency nurses or care workers.

The turnover rate for registered nurses working at the trust was almost 14 per cent in March, the latest month for which data is available. The figure represents a fall compared to previous months.

In September, the trust’s “day fill rate” for registered nurses and midwives was 84.6 per cent.

The day fill rate - which tracks actual nursing cover compared to planned cover - plunged in March, when it fell from 91.2 per cent to 83.9 per cent the following month.

Registered nurse cover during the night shift was better, with staff levels meeting expectations 94.8 per cent of the time in September.

There are signs that the situation could be improving. The number of nursing vacancies fell from the equivalent of 180.7 full-time nursing staff in August to 140.9 in September. The drop follows the recruitment of more student nurses.

A spokesman for Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The NHS as a whole is currently feeling the effects of a national shortage of healthcare staff and we are obviously no exception.

“Despite the challenges, we continue to not only make good progress in recruiting more permanent staff, both from the UK and further afield, but also in keeping hold of our best people.”

The NMC say that the healthcare system faces a “major challenge”, with the number of nurses and midwives leaving the register up by 13 per cent in the last year.

Most of those leaving the register were UK-based nurses.

However, 1,632 hailed from the European Union. Health chiefs have said that the Brexit vote and a weakening UK economy has made the country a less attractive place to work.

The figures come four months on from revelations that more nurses are leaving the register than joining it.

Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive, said: “It’s worrying that we are seeing a continuing rise in nurses and midwives leaving the register and our data is clear that this is being driven by both UK and EU registrants.

“These figures continue to highlight the major challenges faced by the UK’s health and care sectors around the recruitment and retention of staff.

"Nurses and midwives work incredibly hard in very difficult circumstances.”