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Nurse numbers at record high, but workplace challenges remain, says NMC

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The figures show an increase of more than 5000 UK The figures show an increase of more than 5000 UK trained nurses and midwives

Around 8000 more nurses, midwives and nursing associates are now registered to work in the UK compared to 12 months ago, according to latest figures published by the NMC.

The data reveals a 126% increase in the number of nurses and midwives from outside of the EU registering to work in the UK for the first time – rising from 2720 last year to 6157 this year. This follows a number of changes made by the NMC to streamline its systems and better support those applicants who meet its high standards, through the registration process.

‘Any boost to the register is good news but looking behind the headlines raises further concerns,’ said Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive and General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair.

‘Politicians should be alarmed by the finding that almost one in three quit nursing because of intolerable pressure. They have abused the goodwill of nurses for too long and that dam is starting to burst.’

The figures also show an overall increase of more than 5000 UK trained nurses, midwives and, in England only, nursing associates. This was driven by an increase of 1567 joining the register for the first time and a decrease in those leaving.

The number of nursing and midwifery professionals from the EU continues to decline. Following a peak of 38,024 in March 2017, the number has reduced to 33,035 this year – a 13% fall over two years.

The number of midwives registered to work in the UK continues to increase – rising from 43,641 to 44,204 – an increase of 563. This includes those who hold both a nursing and midwifery registration.

‘The modest increases are not of the scale or kind needed to meet demand and the workforce crisis isn’t abating. It is inappropriate to rely on a steady stream of nurses from beyond the EU, which seems to be the plan in England in particular,’ added Dame Donna.

‘The official figures reveal a big net loss in European nurses, with fears over Brexit cited as the main reason for leaving and partly driving efforts to recruit from even further afield. Every country of the UK needs a serious strategy for the domestic workforce to recruit, train and retain a new generation of nurses and have accountability set in law.’

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