What were the biggest health and social care trends of the last decade?


What were the biggest health and social care trends of the 2010s?

In health and social care, the 2010s have seen a lot of change. As we settle into a new decade, we decided to take a look back at the last 10 years, and ask our consultants about the biggest trends that they’ve observed. Here’s what they had to say:

Health and social care trends: Nurse shortages

The most notable health and social care trend over the last decade has been a vast increase in vacancies, as the staffing situation has become a crisis. With reports projecting that there will be a shortage of 108,000 full-time nurses in 10 years this demand looks set to continue in this area.  While the creation of the nursing associates’ role has taken some of the burden off of hospitals, it’s a sticky plaster that won’t fix the current issue. Ultimately, there will need to be innovative solutions to solve the crisis. Studying nursing must be made more attractive, and there must be viable ways to recruit nurses from overseas.


While most of us are sick and tired of it – Brexit has had a large effect on the industry. EU nurses play a huge role in the sector – making up 65,000 of the 1.2 million healthcare workforce in England. Therefore, a restriction to the availability of EU professionals is far from ideal.

However, over the last couple of years, uncertainty over Brexit has led to almost 5,000 nurses and midwives from EU27 countries quitting the UK. The number of EU-trained nurses and midwives fell from a record high of 38,024 in March 2017 to 33,035 in March 2019. In fact, in 2018/19, only 968 nurses and midwives from the EEA joined the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) register, a decrease of 91% since 2015/16.


In the last decade there has been a phenomenal increase in demand for dementia nurses. At WR, we’ve seen a shift from hirers seeking more generalist adult nurses to mental health nurses with experience in dementia care. In fact, our own data shows that vacancies for workers specialising in this area has skyrocketed by a staggering 304% in the past year alone.

While government plans include an increase of 4,000 nurses, 5,000 support workers and 600 social workers – the mental healthcare workforce has barely grown since 2009. Unfortunately, this has created a situation where demand has gone up, yet funding has gone down.

Care Homes

There has also been a vast number of care homes closing down, with 400 operators shutting their doors in the last five years, buckling under the pressure of funding cuts, debt and rising costs. In fact, according to industry analysis, a staggering four in 10 home care workers leave their roles every year.

WR Health

Ultimately, the 2010s were definitely eventful!  While these were the biggest health and social care trends that we’ve seen – please get in touch if you feel like we’ve missed anything – we’d love to hear your thoughts. While there may seem like a lot of doom and gloom, regardless of the situation in the sector, we’ve helped many organisations address talent shortages and plenty of individuals find their dream jobs.  With a client base of over 6,000 organisations, we’ve placed experts in elderly care, mental health,
dementia care, brain injury nursing and rehabilitation, pre & post-operative care and residential care.

All of our consultants possess an in-depth understanding of the sector and the needs of our clients and candidates. Responsiveness and commitment to best practice are at the foundation of our approach in building strong relationships.

To make your health and social care job search as seamless as possible, we offer a range of services: contingent, exclusive, and our brand new model, WR Search. This retained service saves businesses time and money, providing state-of-the-art insight,
behavioural analysis, and advanced tools for candidates to land their dream jobs.

If you’re seeking a new position, or are an organisation with vacancies in this area, contactus today