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August 2018

Influx of non-EU nurses ‘not enough’ says charity

Latest NMC figures show an 86% increase in the number of nurses and midwives joining the UK workforce from outside the EU in the past 3 months. The average number joining each month increased to 440 between April and June 2018 compared with an average of 237 per month in the previous nine months.

At the end of June 2018 there were 69,425 nurses and midwives on the register from outside the EU compared with 67,534 in July 2017 – an increase of nearly 2,000.

However, numbers of registrants from the EU has plummeted. The number of new nurses coming from the EU to work in the UK has dropped by 87% from 6,382 in 2016-17 to 805 in 2017-18.

New analysis of the NMC data by independent charity, the Health Foundation, also shows that month on month, registration of new nurses from the EU has flatlined since the Brexit referendum in June 2016. The monthly average number of EU nurses registering in the UK in the first seven months of 2016 was 940 – since January 2017 this monthly average has always been below 100.

The analysis also reveals that the Republic of Ireland is now the main source of new nurses recruited from within the EU, while numbers registering from the main EU sources in previous years – such as Portugal, Spain, Romania and Italy – have dropped ten-fold since 2016.

The Health Foundation claims: ‘The inflow of nurses from non-EU countries has not increased enough to compensate for the drop. The total number of new nurse registrants (including from the UK and abroad) in 2017-18 was 3,500 less than a year earlier in 2016-17 – a fall of more than 10%.’

Meanwhile, the latest NHS workforce statistics reinforce the overall picture of stagnation with nurse vacancies at 10% – around 35,000 more nurses needed – and numbers rising by only 0.12% between March 2016 and 2018.

A new survey reveals that most UK adults (71%) think the UK should continue to try to attract nurses from the European Union after the UK leaves the EU, even including almost two thirds (65%) of those who voted ‘leave’ in the EU referendum.

Only 14% think the UK should reduce the number of non-UK nurses working in the UK, whatever country they come from.

August 2018