HSJ’s round-up of the biggest stories and talking points in health policy

Workforce warning

There has been a “crash” in the number of European nurses registering to work in the UK since the EU referendum last June – prompting warnings the NHS is facing its worst nursing workforce crisis for 20 years.

Data shared with HSJ shows the scale of the decline in nurses from EU countries registering with the Nursing and Midwifery Council since the vote, suggesting fears over the impact of the Brexit referendum are being realised.

The monthly statistics show the number of EU nurses registering with the NMC to work in the UK peaked at 1,304 in July 2016, a month after the referendum.

However, in the following months, applications have dropped significantly – with a steep fall by September to 344 applications.

The decline continued, culminating in a drop to just 46 EU nurses registering with the NMC in April 2017.

As well as the referendum result, another contributory factor to the decline could be the introduction of new tougher language testing by the NMC since June 2016, delaying many applicants. However, the number of EU nurses applying to the register was increasing until shortly after the referendum.

Professor Jim Buchan, based at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, said: “It is a crash. Clearly something has happened in that period, and that something was most likely the Brexit vote and the uncertainty that has created. It has led to a change in the choices being made by individual EU nurses and midwives.”

Jeremy is back (again)

The cabinet reshuffle after the 2015 general election. The 2016 junior doctors’ strike. Another cabinet shake-up after the Brexit referendum. A smaller vote share and the uncertainty of a minority government in 2017.

Jeremy Hunt has survived them all. He was confirmed as health secretary in Theresa May’s new cabinet on Sunday evening.

He arrived at Downing Street wearing his NHS badge at 4.15pm, and around 45 minutes later the Department of Health was confirmed Mr Hunt was still SoS.

Mr Hunt is already the longest serving health secretary ever, and will reach five years in the job if he’s still there in September.

But he will be joined by two new ministers at the DH after Nicola Blackwood and David Mowat both lost their seats last Friday.