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Scotland sees increase in EU nurses in past year

Growing numbers of European Union nurses are working in Scotland, despite rapidly declining applications to the register across the UK.
EU nurses

Growing numbers of European Union (EU) nurses are working in Scotland, despite rapidly declining applications to the register across the UK.

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison told the Holyrood parliament there had been a 7.4% increase in EU nurses in Scotland since last June’s referendum.

RCN Scotland welcomed the increasing numbers of EU nurses but said they cannot plug the vacancy gap and that the future of EU residents remains uncertain.

Fall in registrations

Figures showed a fall of 96% in registrations from EU nurses in the UK as a whole.

Statistics obtained by the Health Foundation show 1,304 nurses from the EU joined the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register last July compared to just 46 in April of this

Growing numbers of European Union (EU) nurses are working in Scotland, despite rapidly declining applications to the register across the UK.


RCN Scotland welcomed the increasing number of EU nurses, an increase of
almost 8% since last June’s referendum. Picture: iStock

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison told the Holyrood parliament there had been a 7.4% increase in EU nurses in Scotland since last June’s referendum.

RCN Scotland welcomed the increasing numbers of EU nurses but said they cannot plug the vacancy gap and that the future of EU residents remains uncertain.

Fall in registrations

Figures showed a fall of 96% in registrations from EU nurses in the UK as a whole. 

Statistics obtained by the Health Foundation show 1,304 nurses from the EU joined the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register last July compared to just 46 in April of this year.

In the year to May 2016, 708 EU nurses with addresses in Scotland were registered with the NMC. This increased over the 12 months to this May to 760, a boost of 52.

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: ‘The nursing and midwifery vacancy rate in Scotland now stands at 4.5%, the highest-ever recorded.

Too few nurses

‘Across both acute and community settings in NHS Scotland, there are simply too few nurses to meet demand.

‘Teams are struggling to recruit and retain the nursing staff they need and the 1% cap on nursing pay is contributing to low morale among nursing staff.’

Meanwhile, Ms Robison said it is ‘extremely concerning’ that only 46 EU nurses registered to work in the UK this April.  

Negative consequence

‘Without EU nurses it will be even harder for the NHS and social care providers to find the staff they need to provide our services, which would be another negative consequence of a hard Brexit which, of course, we need to avoid,’ she said.

The NMC said a number of factors could be behind the UK fall, including the recent introduction of English language controls. 

More details about plans for the future of EU nationals in the UK are expected to be published by the government on Monday 26 June.


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