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NMC figures show number of nurses leaving NHS continues to exceed number joining

Statistics also show 89% fall in European workers joining the register

An increasing number of nurses and midwives are leaving the profession amid a dramatic drop in European workers joining the register, figures reveal today.

The RCN said the statistics from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) represent a ‘double whammy’ for the NHS.

There were 1,678 fewer nurses and midwives on the register in September 2017 than a year ago, the figures show.

Between October 2016 and September 2017, 35,363 people left the nursing register and 27,786 joined it, meaning 27% more people left than entered the profession.

European staff exodus

The biggest group of workers leaving the register were nurses who trained elsewhere in Europe, with 4,067 leaving this year compared with 2,435 a year ago – this represents a 67% increase in leavers.

But the number joining from the European Union (EU) saw the most dramatic change, dropping from 10,178 last year to 1,107 this year – an 89% decrease.

For UK graduates, the number leaving the register rose by 9%, from 26,653 between October 2015 and September 2016, to 29,019 for the year up to this September.

‘Alarming figures’

Commenting on the figures, RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘These alarming new figures from the NMC represent a double whammy for the NHS and patients. 

‘Not only has the number of UK homegrown nurses quitting the profession gone up, but, at the same time, significant numbers of the EU-trained nurses on whom the health service depends are leaving, and there’s also been a huge drop in nursing staff coming to work here from EU countries. All of this is happening while the NHS is short of at least 40,000 nurses.’

Ms Davies said the prime minister had left it too late to send out the message during Brexit talks that professionals working here are desperately needed, leaving them with ‘no choice but to leave’.

Major challenges

NMC chief executive Jackie Smith said: It’s worrying that we are seeing a continuing rise in nurses and midwives leaving the register and our data is clear that this is being driven by both UK and EU registrants.

‘These figures continue to highlight the major challenges faced by the UK’s health and care sectors around the recruitment and retention of staff. Nurses and midwives work incredibly hard in very difficult circumstances. Those responsible for workforce matters will no doubt respond to what these trends are showing.’

The latest figures come after the NMC revealed in July that, for the first time, more nurses and midwives were leaving the register than joining it.


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