Increasing number of nurses and midwives leaving profession ‘highlights major challenges faced by health and care sectors'

2 November 2017

In July, the NMC released figures which showed that for the first time there were more nurses and midwives leaving the register than joining it. Today’s figures show that trend is continuing. Over the last 12 months the number of UK graduates leaving the profession has increased by nine percent, as shown in the table below.

The number of nurses and midwives from Europe leaving the register has also increased by 67 percent, while the number joining the register from the EU has dropped dramatically from 10,178 last year to 1,107 this year, a decrease of 89 percent.

Number of nurses and midwives leaving the register by country of initial registration

Country October 2015 to September 2016 October 2016 to September 2017
UK 26,653 29,019
Europe 2,435 4,067
Rest of the world 2,090 2,277
Total 31,178 35,363

While the number of nurses and midwives leaving the register from the UK continues to rise, indications are that the number joining remains static when compared with the previous 12 month period.

Jackie Smith, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, 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.”

Read the full report.


Notes for editors

  1. The Nursing and Midwifery Council exists to protect the public. We do this by ensuring that only those who meet our requirements are allowed to practise as a nurse or midwife in the UK. We take action if concerns are raised about whether a nurse or midwife is fit to practise.
  2. For media enquiries, please contact the media team at or on 02076815884.