On 12th June 2017, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has released new figures relating to EU trained nurses and midwives. The new figures show that there has been a 96 per cent drop in nurses from the European Union (EU) countries registering to work in the UK since the Brexit vote last year.
The Health Foundation obtained the latest figures after submitting a freedom of information request to the NMC. The NMC data shows that the number of applicants from the EU registering to practice in the UK has fallen from 1,304 in July last year to just 46 in April this year.
The UK has often used international recruitment as a stop gap measure to fill staffing shortages, and since 2008 the majority of international nurses registering in the UK have come from within the EU.
But the fall in EU registrants suggests that the NHS requires a new, sustainable long-term approach to workforce planning to avoid patient care being affected.
The director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, Anita Charlesworth said that the recruitment and retention of nurses is one of the biggest challenges facing health and social care, with a lack of 30,000 nurses in England only.
Without EU nurses, it will be even harder for the National Health Service (NHS) and other employers to find the staff they need to provide safe patient care. The new figures should be a wake-up call to politicians and health service leaders, she added.
Janet Davies, the chief executive and general secretary of RCN said the healthcare system of the UK rely on the contributions of EU staff and this drop in numbers could have severe consequences for patients and their families.
She further added that the nursing workforce is in a state of crisis, with more than 40,000 vacancies in England alone. Across the health service, from A&E to elderly care, this puts patients at serious risk.
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