Significant rise in EU nurses leaving the UK

April 25, 2018

New Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) figures continue to highlight ‘major concern’ as there's a significant rise in EU nurses leaving the UK.

The new figures from the NMC show that between April 2017 and March 2018, 3,962 nurses and midwives from the EU left the register – an increase of 29%. The NMC figures also show that there continues to be a dramatic drop in those joining the register from the EU. Over the same period, 805 EU nurses and midwives joined the register compared with 6,382 the year before – a drop of 87%.

Following a period of sustained decline, the number of UK-trained nurses and midwives registered to work appears to be stabilising. Those joining the register for the first time is at its highest level for four years while 4,034 fewer people left the register.

The number of nurses and midwives joining the register from outside the EU has also risen for the fourth consecutive year with 1,093 more nurses and midwives on the register compared March 2017.

Worryingly, data from the regulator also shows a decline in three of the four fields of nursing. The number of adult, learning disability and mental health nurses eligible to work in the UK has reduced over the last few years, while the number of children’s nurses has increased year-on-year for the past four years.

Jackie Smith, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council said, 'The number of people from the EU leaving our register remains a major concern, despite reassuring comments from senior members of government and nurse leaders. While the picture for UK trained nurses and midwives appears to be stabilising.

'We asked people why they were leaving and for the small number of EU nurses and midwives who responded it’s clear that Brexit is playing a part, while retirement and staffing levels are clear factors in the decision of UK nurses and midwives to leave the profession.

'The Government has announced an increase in undergraduate training places and those responsible for workforce planning should continue to look at what can be done to better support the nursing profession at this difficult time.'

The NMC surveyed 3,496 people who left the register between June and November 2017 to find out their reasons for leaving. EU nurses and midwives cited leaving the UK and Brexit as their top reasons while retirement, staffing levels and changes to personal circumstances were the main reasons for UK registrants leaving.

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