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EU nurses leaving NHS, warns RCN ahead of Article 50


More evidence has emerged that NHS hospitals saw a sharp fall in the supply of new overseas nurses in the months after the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Figures highlighted by the Royal College of Nursing show the number of new nurses from around Europe dropped to a quarter of its previous level.

“They cannot afford to lose the international workers the NHS relies on”

Janet Davies

By late 2016, the number joining the official Nursing and Midwifery Council register to practise in the UK fell to less than two hundred per month.

Figures show an average of 194 nurses registered each month in the September to December period – compared to 797 per month in the same period in 2015.

Prime minister Theresa May is due to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday, starting the UK’s official process of leaving the EU.

The new data adds to that reported by Nursing Times in January, which showed the number of EU nurses admitted onto the NMC register dropped by almost half, from 1,304 in July to only 100 in December.

The regulator said at the time that this year’s drop off could be due to the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the introduction of new language testing rules over summer 2016, or a combination of both.

In addition to the NCM figures, a separate Freedom of Information request by the RCN revealed that 2,700 EU nurses already working in the UK left the register in the year of the referendum.

One in every 15 nurses and midwives working in the NHS in England is from another EU country, noted the college, which is hoping to put pressure on the government for job guarantees for existing NHS nurses from the EU.

Royal College of Nursing

Pay rise above 1% ‘needed to ease nurse crisis’

Janet Davies

It estimated that around 24,000 nursing jobs were unfilled in England and that one in three nurses would retire in the next 10 years.

It highlighted that NHS services had increasingly relied on international recruitment due to a shortage of British nurses and the number of EU nurses available trebled between 2011 and 2016.

Janet Davies, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: “If they fail to train the next generation of British nurses, the government must keep attracting the best from around Europe.

“On Wednesday, EU nationals working in the NHS need a clear signal from Theresa May that they are wanted and welcome to stay,” she said. “Her failure to guarantee their right to remain is leaving soaring numbers heading for the door.

“The government is turning off the supply of qualified nurses from around the world at the very moment the health service is in a staffing crisis like never before. They cannot afford to lose the international workers the NHS relies on,” she said.

The RCN and other unions are understood to be poised to launch a campaign to make it clear overseas nurses are welcome and highly valued by the NHS, as exclusively revealed by Nursing Times earlier this month.


Readers' comments (6)

  • I was one of only 2 RNs on a 24 bedded Elective orthopaedic ward when I retired who was British Trained and under half of my HCA's were British born. Staff made up from Indian Pakistani Philippino Nepalese and South African Nurses. Portugues and Korean Nurses have since added to the numbers and only 1 local trained nurse stayed 4 months before she left for a community post.
    I was the last of my School of Nursing set, to retire in 2015. Almost all of the British nurses I know at my old trust are planning to leave at or as close to 55 a possible. The way managers treat staff is now no longer acceptable. I started one we used to train nurses for the world, rather than steal them to work here to cover the gaps and failings of our "Superior to GNC" training, despite there being a huge number of wards and beds fewer. We could only dream of the ratio's demanded now

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  • Oh well, too late now, the British people has voted!

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  • The final straw for me is the NMC re-registration nonsense.
    I have better things to do than keep this awful heresy inquisition going with my time and money.
    As above managements treatment of nurses including nurse managers and the out and out persecution of nurses by the NMC is a disgrace.
    To my colleagues out there, retire and forget nursing as soon as you can, and, as others have commented please discourage any youngsters from entering training. It is only a matter of time before the NMC subjects you to 9 months of interrogation.
    It happened to me after 30 years of service and I am filled with disgust.
    This country does not deserve EU and other foreign national nurses. It does not deserve home trained nurses. This country does not deserve a nursing profession.

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  • In my department there are eight nurses from EU, four from Africa, two from India and only two British .... What else can I say...!

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  • I am not bothering with the NMC re registration nonsense either, for sure it has only got worse, the management never was ideal, a group of Unqualified managers that worked their way up and have no people skills, leader ship skills and lack management education to be effective and professional managers, many also lack interpersonal skills but are good at being above themselves. Try getting qualified first to manage and a good manager treats their subordinates as well as their superiors, they also gain more respect that way, and more so when they help out rather than dictate behind a desk.

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  • The fall in nurses from the EU is entirely down to the imposition of over the top IELTS English language tests.

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