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New NMC figures continue to highlight major concern as more EU nurses leave the UK

25 April 2018

New figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) show a significant rise in the number of EU nurses and midwives leaving the register. Between April 2017 and March 2018, 3,962 people left – an increase of 29 percent.

There continues to be a dramatic drop in those joining the register from the EU. Over the same period 805 EU nurses and midwives joined the register compared with 6,382 the year before – a drop of 87 percent.

Following a period of sustained decline the number of UK trained nurses and midwives registered to work appears to be stabilising. Those joining the register for the first time is at its highest level for four years while 4,034 fewer people left the register.

The number of nurses and midwives joining the register from outside the EU has also risen for the fourth consecutive year with 1,093 more nurses and midwives on the register compared March 2017.

Data from the regulator also shows a decline in three of the four fields of nursing. The number of adult, learning disability and mental health nurses eligible to work in the UK has reduced over the last few years while the number of children’s nurses has increased year on year for the past 4 years.

Jackie Smith, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council said:

“The number of people from the EU leaving our register remains a major concern, despite reassuring comments from senior members of government and nurse leaders. While the picture for UK trained nurses and midwives appears to be stabilising.

“We asked people why they were leaving and for the small number of EU nurses and midwives who responded it’s clear that Brexit is playing a part, while retirement and staffing levels are clear factors in the decision of UK nurses and midwives to leave the profession.

“The government has announced an increase in undergraduate training places and those responsible for workforce planning should continue to look at what can be done to better support the nursing profession at this difficult time.”

The NMC surveyed 3,496 people who left the register between June and November 2017 to find out their reasons for leaving. EU nurses and midwives cited leaving the UK and Brexit as their top reasons while retirement, staffing levels and changes to personal circumstances were the main reasons for UK registrants leaving.

Read the full report

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Notes for editors

  1. At the end of March 2018 there were 690,278 nurses and midwives on our register – 495 fewer than at the end of March 2017.
  2. We surveyed nurses and midwives who left our register between June 2017 and November 2017 to ask them why they left. 3,496 people responded to the survey. 3137 were from the UK, 227 from the EU/EEA and 132 from outside the EU/EEA.
  3. For media enquiries, please contact NMC press office on 020 7681 5884 or email media@nmc-uk.org. ​
  4. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the independent professional regulator for nurses and midwives in the UK. We exist to protect the public. We do this by maintaining the register of qualified nurses and midwives and setting standards of education, training, conduct and performance. We make sure that nurses and midwives keep their skills and knowledge up to date through a regular revalidation process. If concerns are raised about the standards of a registered nurse or midwife, we have a duty to investigate and, where necessary, take action to protect the public.