Figures reveal an 86% increase in nurses and midwives joining from outside the EU according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
These numbers only account for the past 3 months, but the NMC says this is a result of changes to the registration process and what they are willing to accept as evidence for English language capability.
‘Indications are that the changes we’ve made are making a difference - but it’s very early days and we must wait to see if this trend continues,’ said Emma Broadbent, director of registration and revalidation at the NMC.
‘The fact remains that the UK workforce is under significant pressure and it’s vital that we continue to enable the right people with the right skills and knowledge to join our register in the quickest and safest way possible.’
Between April and June 2018, 440 nurses and midwives joined compared the average of 237 per month over the past 9 months.
As of June 2018, there are 69,425 nurse and midwives on the register – which is an increase of nearly 2,000 from the previous year. However, these figures don’t take into account the numbers of those leaving the register.
'The very latest figures on nurses from the wider world reveal a small but encouraging increase that we will continue to monitor. While the NHS has always relied on the contribution of its international workforce, there is no alternative to a proper domestic plan and that is still seriously lacking,' said Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing.
The NMC has said it intends to make the application process faster as they plan to allow nurses and midwives to apply to register immediately after qualifying rather than waiting 12 months.
‘That’s why the time is right to look at the application processes for overseas nurses and midwives as whole, to ensure that it’s truly fit for the future. Our proposals will make the application process simpler and fairer while continuing to maintain the high standards required to join our register,’ added Ms Broadbent.
However, a deficit in nurses and midwives is still prevalent as they make up 40% of all vacancies in the NHS – the total number of unfilled nursing positions is currently around 36,000 across the UK.