The Nursing and Midwifery Council could face “multiple risks” from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, including a reduction to its income, it has warned.
NMC chair Janet Finch said yesterday that it was “more likely” that, following Brexit negotiations, EU nurses and midwives would be able to continue working in the UK, rather than there being a “lockdown” by the government on freedom of movement of workers from abroad.
But, at an NMC council meeting in London, she told council members there were risks attached to both outcomes.
“The number of nurses and midwives in this country reduc[ing] [would mean] our register reduces and therefore our income reduces”
Echoing previous comments made by NMC chief executive Jackie Smith to Nursing Times, Dame Janet said if EU staff were able to continue working in the UK then the NMC would process their applications through its current system for non-EU staff.
Ms Smith has previously warned that the extra stages of checks that this system requires, in addition to the potentially far greater numbers of applications through this route from EU workers, could put a strain on NMC resources and delay the recruitment of staff by UK employers.
At the NMC meeting yesterday, Dame Janet also said there was a risk the regulator’s income – from fees – could be reduced if the number of nurses and midwives on the register decreased following a “lockdown” on freedom of movement of EU workers.
“There are two potential ways [Brexit] could go,” she told the council meeting.
“The other potential risk is that the recruitment of nurses from the EU continues but …we have to put a larger number of people through our overseas recruitment systems”
“One is a lockdown of free movement so that the number of nurses and midwives in this country reduces and our register reduces and therefore our income reduces. That’s one potential risk,” she said.
“The other potential risk is that the recruitment of nurses from the EU continues but they become ‘overseas’ nurses rather than EU nurses, in which case we have to put a larger number of people through our overseas recruitment systems,” she said.
“These are the two options and probably the second is more likely,” she added.
The £120 annual registration fee is the regulator’s principal source of income. The last increase in the fee took place in March 2015, when it rose by £20.
One council member also warned a further risk to the NMC was that nurses and midwives from countries across the world could in the future choose to work in the EU instead of the UK, because it meant they could easily move between countries for employment.
Council member Quinton Quayle noted that this meant there were “multiple risks…that could affect our business”.
NMC chief executive Jackie Smith told council members the regulator was keeping “close contact” with the government over Brexit negotiations and would update the group at further meetings.
“We are right to raise this as a concern, and we are talking to the department and keeping close contact with them,” she said.