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What do the latest figures from the NMC register tell us?

Read our latest registration data report

Our latest data report published today (Thursday 9 July) explores the numbers of nurses, midwives and nursing associates joining and leaving the NMC register between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020.

It shows the register at a record high, with around 18,000 more nurses, midwives and nursing associates registered to work in the UK compared to a year ago.

Infographic of 716,607 professionals on the NMC register at 31 March 2020

What has driven this growth?

It comes mainly from a combination of people joining and staying from the UK and from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

The latest figures highlight an increase to the permanent register of 9,012 (1.5 percent) nurses and midwives from the UK, and in England only, nursing associates. The number of people leaving the register from the UK has also fallen to a five-year low of 21,306 compared with a peak of 29,434 in 2016–2017.

We’ve also seen a big increase in the number of people from outside the EEA on our permanent register, rising by 11,008 (15 percent). This was driven by a 95 percent surge in the number of people joining for the first time (6,157 to 12,033).

Meanwhile, the number of nursing and midwifery professionals from the EEA continues to decline, with the number this year reducing to 31,385, a 5 percent drop on the previous year.

Why did people leave the register?

We invited a sample of more than 6,000 people to take part in a small survey to find out why they left our permanent register.

Findings from this survey, carried out before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, show the top reason cited for leaving after retirement was too much pressure leading to stress and/or poor mental health.

Their comments reflected various contributory factors, from high expectations and the pressure of responsibility, to the volume of work professionals were facing.

What about the Covid-19 temporary register?

In March 2020 we established a Covid-19 temporary register to support the UK’s response to the pandemic.

Our report features data from the temporary register at 31 March, just like the data reported from our permanent register.

At that time, the number of people on the Covid-19 temporary register was 7,658, but it has since nearly doubled in size to more than 14,000 at the time of publication. These people are not counted towards the overall numbers on the permanent register.

Commenting on the most recent data report, Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“Covid-19 has meant the vital skills, specialism and resilience of our nursing and midwifery professionals have never been more publicly recognised and valued. It’s therefore great to celebrate record numbers of people on the NMC register.

“However, while the increased figures from within the UK and overseas are very welcome for everyone working in and using health and care services, there are potential stormy waters ahead.

“As a result of the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions, we may no longer be able to rely on the flow of professionals joining our register from overseas in the same way. Going forwards, the significant growth we’ve seen recently may not be sustained.

“Nor can we afford to ignore existing pressures, exposed and exacerbated by Covid-19, which may challenge employers’ ability to retain our essential nursing and midwifery professionals as health and care services seek to recover.

“We all need to use the insight our registration data reveals to focus on creating the right environment, conditions and incentives to support the sustainable recruitment and retention of nursing and midwifery staff now and for the future.”

Find out more

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