Nurse supply model: exploring the impact of COVID-19 The potential impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on nurse supply

March 2021

Emma Woodham
Rosemary Wildblood
Siôn Cave
Keith Derbyshire
Nurse supply model: exploring the impact of COVID-19

Key points

  • The Health Foundation's REAL Centre commissioned Decision Analysis Services Ltd (DAS) to produce a model that can be used to develop supply projections of the nursing workforce with a time horizon of 10 to 20 years.
  • This working paper explores the potential impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future supply of nurses in England.
  • Insight from this research will be incorporated into the development of the nurse supply model. 

In 2019 the Health Foundation's REAL Centre commissioned Decision Analysis Services Ltd (DAS) to develop a comprehensive model of nurse supply.

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the REAL Centre commissioned DAS to carry out further work to explore the potential impact of the first wave of the pandemic on the future supply of nurses in England. 

This working paper presents the findings from this work and sets out how this insight and foresight will be incorporated into the development of the nurse supply model. It sets out:  

  • an overview of the approach and research activities carried out by DAS 

  • a discussion of the research findings 

  • a description of how the output of the research will be applied to the nurse supply model 

  • conclusions from the research. 

The project concludes that COVID-19 has provoked substantial change across the nursing supply system that is likely to have implications for both those considering a career in nursing and current and former nurses from all sectors. The shifts will take more time to quantify and understand, but the most significant changes are noted to be increases in workload and stress on nurses, new ways of working and changes in perceptions of the nursing profession on the part of both the public and nurses themselves. 

A clear conclusion from the project is that the impact COVID-19 will have on nurse supply is very uncertain. The research shows that the pandemic will have a different impact on individuals and their career decisions depending on a number of factors, such as their experience during the pandemic, personal circumstances, age and ethnicity. It is recommended that when the data identified in this report become available, they are monitored to understand the system-wide impact more fully. 

The nurse supply model project will be completed later this year, and the model will be used to inform the REAL Centre’s long term projections for health and social care. 

Cite this publication

Woodham E, Wildblood R, Cave S and Derbyshire K. Nurse supply model: exploring the potential impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on nurse supply. 2021.

Further reading

Project

Nurse supply model

Project

This project aims to enable projections of the future nursing workforce supply in England under...

REAL Centre

Blog

Addressing the nursing shortfall

13 December 2020
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Nihar Shembavnekar introduces the REAL Centre's nurse supply model, and explains why we hope it will...

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Working paper

Nurse supply model: progress so far

December 2020
Working paper

The Health Foundation's REAL Centre commissioned DAS to produce a model that can be used to develop...

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Report

Building the NHS nursing workforce in England

December 2020
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The current shortfall of nurses represents a major long-term and growing problem for the NHS. This...

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