This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Shortage of up to 40,000 nurse could follow Brexit by 2026

Written by: | Published:

The NHS could be 40,000 nurses short by 2026 The NHS could be 40,000 nurses short by 2026 according to leaked Department of Health data

The lack of nurses could reach an ‘unsafe’ level in less than ten years due to European Union (EU) nurses leaving the NHS, according to data leaked to the Health Service Journal.

Forecasts from the Department of Health indicate there could be a shortage of 40,000 nurses by 2026 in the ‘worst-case scenario’ post-Brexit. Following the referendum result in June 2016, 2,700 EU nurses have already left the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register.

The leak has prompted serious concern among ministers and officials at Richmond House – headquarters of the DoH – as the UK heads into Brexit negotiations. The worst case scenario is based on modelling by civil servants where all EU and non-EU inflows of nurses and midwives stop after changes to immigration rules.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) chief Janet Davies said: ‘This concerning leak reveals that, without urgent action, the government may struggle to provide a safe health service in the future. It comes on top of tens of thousands of nursing jobs already lying vacant too.

‘In some areas, the NHS is currently finding it difficult to provide safe and effective staffing. The number of nurses on duty has a direct impact on the quality of care, people’s experience and the outcome of their treatment.’

While the model is considered unlikely to happen, any impact on workforce supply from Brexit and increased demand on services could place pressure on the NHS and be a risk to patient safety.

‘The NHS has never been self-sufficient and always relied on staff from outside the UK,’ Ms Davies said. ‘The government must take an early decision on the status of our European nurses and those from beyond Europe. To lose their talent would be foolish when faced with this potential crisis.’

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.



Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.