News

NMC figures mask ‘severe instability’ of nursing workforce

Despite overall rise in registrants, RCN warns of continuing decline in EEA nurse numbers

Despite overall rise in registrants, RCN warns of continuing decline in EEA nurse numbers

Figures showing an increase in the number of nurses registered to work in the UK should be treated with caution as they mask worrying trends, the RCN has warned.


RCN deputy director of nursing Stephanie Aiken

The number of nurses and midwives registered to work in the UK increased by 3,880 in the past 12 months, according to data released today (7 November) by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

At the end of September there were 693,618 registrants. The number of nurses and midwives trained in the UK and registered to work is up 3,457 over the last 12 months while numbers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) have increased by 2,808.

However, the number of registrants from the EEA continues to decline with 2,385 fewer nurses and midwives on the register. Just 888 nurses and midwives from the EEA joined the register for the first time in the 12 months to September with 3,560 EEA registrants leaving in the same period. 

The figures also show 22,170 nurses and midwives from the UK joining the register for the first time in the 12 months to September, down by 2,034 on the previous 12 months.

RCN deputy director of nursing Stephanie Aiken, said: 'This positive overall headline increase in the size of the workforce risks masking severe instability.

Post-Brexit uncertainty 

'Despite the alarming number of vacant nurse jobs, the number of newly qualified domestic nurses is falling, not rising – that is even before nursing students lost their funding two years ago. Our European colleagues are continuing to leave rather than face post-Brexit uncertainty.'

NMC interim chief executive Sue Killen said the increase in home-grown nurses and improvements in the way people from outside the EEA are registered was making a ‘real difference’.

But she warned the impact of the 2017 decision to remove nursing bursaries had yet to feed through into NMC figures.

‘It also remains essential that there is proper investment in the continuing professional development of nurses and midwives if we are to keep hold of the health and care sector’s most vital asset,' she said.


In other news 

RCN moves one step closer to industrial action ballot in Northern Ireland

Government pledges to focus on a preventative approach to care

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.

Jobs