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Record number of nurses from the EU leave amid Brexit uncertainty

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Between April 2017 and March 2018, 3,962 nurses and midwives from the EU left the UK

Brexit has caused a record number of nurses and midwives from EU27 countries to leave the UK as the NHS staffing crisis continues.

According to figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), between April 2017 and March 2018, 3,962 nurses and midwives left and only 805 joined – an 87% decrease from the year before where 6,382 joined.

‘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,’ said Jackie Smith, chief executive of the NMC.

‘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 declining size of the register has also caused the NMC to review its current registration fee to maintain its revenue.

However, the number of nurses joining from outside the EU has risen for its fourth consecutive year, with 1,093 having joined the register.

‘Brexit has made many European nationals feel decidedly unwelcome. And with NHS staffing pressures showing no sign of easing, no-one could blame nurses and midwives for thinking they’ll be better off elsewhere,’ said Sara Gorton, head of health of Unison, a trade union.

‘This European exodus continues apace, simply because the Prime Minister has yet to do enough to reassure EU nurses and midwives that they’ll have rights, jobs and a future once Brexit becomes a reality.’

The data also revealed that the three nursing sectors experiencing the most shortages are adult, learning disability and mental health nurses.

‘These figures are yet more worrying evidence of the huge impact that the government’s shambolic approach to Brexit is having for our NHS,’ said Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing.

‘As the overall number of nursing staff falls again, it is patients who will worry the most.’

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