• NMC reports 87 per cent year on year decrease in EU nurses and midwives joining register
  • Compounded by 29 per cent increase in those leaving the register
  • Number of nurses from UK joining the register at highest rate for four years

The number of nurses and midwives from EU countries registering to work in the UK has dropped by 87 per cent since last March, new data reveals.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council reported that between April 2017 and March 2018, 805 EU nurses and midwives joined the register – 5,577 less than the year before.

Figures also show a significant rise in the number of EU nurses and midwives leaving the register. During the same period, 3,962 people left – an increase of 29 per cent.

Almost 60 per cent of EU nurses and midwives gave leaving the UK as one of their top reasons for leaving the register, followed by Brexit, which was cited by 47 per cent of survey respondents.

For UK registered nurses and midwives, retirement was the most popular reason for leaving the register.

However, following a period of “sustained decline”, the number of UK trained nurses and midwives has slightly increased, the NMC reported.

The number of nurses and midwives from the UK joining the register for the first time increased by 1,691 between April 2017 and March 2018 – the highest joining rate in four years.

HSJ revealed last year there was a “crash” in the number of European nurses registered to work in the UK since the EU membership referendum in June 2016.

The statistics showed the number of EU nurses registering to work in the UK fell from 1,304 in July 2016 to just 344 in September. The decline continued, resulting in 46 EU nurses registered with the NMC in April 2017.

NMC chief executive Jackie Smith said the number of people from the EU leaving the register remains a “major concern”.

“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,” she said.

Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said efforts to boost the number of nurses are being dragged down by a “botched Brexit”.

“Nurses returning home, or giving Britain a miss entirely, are doing so because their rights are not clear enough,” Ms Davies said.

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