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NHS would be overwhelmed without EU nurses

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Britain voted to leave the EU on 23 June Britain voted to leave the EU on 23 June

Around one in five nurses recruited in England 2015/16 were non-British EU nationals, leading to fears that an exodus would be damaging to the NHS.

Approximately 33,000 nurses entered the health service in 2015/16. Of these, just over 6000 held an EU nationality other than British. The figures show that roughly 1750 were Spanish, 1300 Italian and nearly 1000 Portuguese.

‘Nurses trained in other countries have contributed to the NHS since its inception,’ said Donna Kinnair, director of nursing, policy and practice at the Royal College of Nursing. ‘The health service would not cope without their contribution, and with the future supply of nurses looking uncertain this situation will not change any time soon.’

The rise observed in 2015/16 is a significant increase from one in 14 in 2011/12. The findings also suggested that in 2015/16 around one in 10 midwives were non-British EU nationals, a rise from one in 20 in 2012/13.

Allowing the ambiguity about the future of health care staff from the EU to continue is completely unfair,’ said Ms Kinnair. ‘The government must act now and develop a coherent and sustainable workforce strategy, which recognises the critical contribution of overseas nurses as well as the pressing need to educate, recruit and retain a domestic nursing workforce in the UK.’

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