The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has highlighted a new opinion poll showing widespread public support for more funding to help trainee nurses.
A YouGov survey found more than half of the people surveyed in England believed the government should raise funding for nurse education to help halt the fall in student nurse numbers.
In addition, 71 per cent said they believe there are not enough nurses to ensure patient safety.
The RCN is campaigning for more support for student nurses, noting that the number of unfilled vacancies is set to rise to 48,000 in the next five years if no action is taken on the matter.
It noted that since the scrapping of the nursing bursary in 2016, student numbers have fallen by eight per cent and applications for nursing courses have dropped by 33 per cent.
The RCN has presented its own model to the government of how a new funding system could work. This may include forgivable loans, which would be paid back to the government not in cash but in terms of nursing service.
Acting chief executive of the RCN Dame Donna Kinnair said: "Taxpayers have spoken on how their money should be spent - politicians and NHS leaders would be ill-advised to ignore more than half their voters and patients.
"The number of unfilled nurse jobs is rising as the number in education falls and, without enough staff, the best laid plans will fail. Investing in the future of nursing is an investment in safe patient care and the future of our NHS."
Concerns about nursing numbers have been expressed at a time when the supply of EU nursing staff has been diminished due to Brexit, with a large fall in the number of nurses coming over to the UK to work and an increase in the number leaving Britain.
According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the number of nurses coming from the EU to work in the UK fell from 6,382 in 2016-17 to 805 in 2017-18.
Written by James Puckle
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