News

96% drop in EU nurse applicants since Brexit vote

Politicians and health leaders are warned that this is a 'wake-up call'
Brexit

There has been a 96% drop in nurses from the European Union (EU) applying to practice in the UK since the Brexit vote last year, according to new figures.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) data shows the number of applicants from the EU fell from 1,304 in July last year to just 46 in April this year.

The figures were obtained by the Health Foundation after submitting a freedom of information request to the NMC.

Since 2008, the majority of international nurses registering to work in the UK have come from within the EU. The RCN has repeatedly warned about the impact that Brexit will have on nursing in the UK.

'Severe consequences'

Responding to the new figures, RCN general secretary Janet Davies said the UK relies on

There has been a 96% drop in nurses from the European Union (EU) applying to practice in the UK since the Brexit vote last year, according to new figures.


The RCN warns that Brexit could put patients at risk. Picture: iStock

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) data shows the number of applicants from the EU fell from 1,304 in July last year to just 46 in April this year.

The figures were obtained by the Health Foundation after submitting a freedom of information request to the NMC.

Since 2008, the majority of international nurses registering to work in the UK have come from within the EU. The RCN has repeatedly warned about the impact that Brexit will have on nursing in the UK.

'Severe consequences'

Responding to the new figures, RCN general secretary Janet Davies said the UK relies on the contributions of EU staff and that this drop in numbers could have 'severe consequences for patients and their families'.

'Our nursing workforce is in a state of crisis, with more than 40,000 vacancies in England alone.

'Across our health service, from emergency departments to older people's care, this puts patients at serious risk.

'These figures should act as a wake-up call to the government as it enters Brexit negotiations. EU staff should be left in no doubt that their contributions are welcome and valued.'

Social care shortage

In May, a Nuffield Trust report claimed that social care faces a shortage of as many as 70,000 workers by 2025-26 if net migration is halted after Brexit. 

The health charity called for a commitment to either continue to allow substantial nurse migration or to step up domestic training.

Health Foundation director of research and economics Anita Charlesworth said: ‘The recruitment and retention of nurses is one of the biggest challenges facing health and social care.

‘The drop in the number of EU nurses registering to work in the UK could not be more stark. Without EU nurses it will be even harder for the NHS and other employers to find the staff they need to provide safe patient care.'


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