Brexit24

89% drop in European nurses and midwives registering in the UK

The UK has become an unattractive place for European nurses to work. 


As chaos reigns in Westminster, new figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) reflect a growing crisis in the NHS. In a report published today, the NMC found the number of nurses and midwives from the EEA (EU plus EEA countries where free movement applies) registering in the UK fell by an incredible 89% in the year to September 2017. In the year to 2016, 10,178 people from the EEA joined the UK register. This year, that figure dropped to 1,107 people.

This chart of EEA nurses and midwives joining the register in the report looks rather like a cliff edge…

In a breakdown of nurses by country, the smallest fall was of nurses from Ireland at 46%. Post-Brexit, the government has already said that free movement with Ireland will continue under the Common Travel Area, which was established prior to the EU. Even then, a 46% fall still seems pretty large. Meanwhile, there was a more dramatic fall from nurses from Spain (95%), Portugal (94%), Poland (89%), Romania (87%) and Italy (86%). The report said that along with Ireland, these countries accounted for 90% of people joining the register from Europe between 2012 and 2016.

To make matters worse, the number of nurses and midwives from Europe leaving the UK also rose by 67% from 2,435 to 4,067 in the year to September 2017.

In total, there were fewer number of nurses and midwives on the register in 2017 than in 2016 signalling a deepening staffing crisis in the NHS. You can see the full report at nmc.org.uk.

Theresa May has left it far too late to send out the message that professionals working here are desperately needed, and that she will give them priority in the Brexit negotiations.

It is no surprise that many feel they have no choice but to leave.

Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing

Commenting on the report, Royal College of Nursing chief executive Janet Davies said: “These alarming new figures represent a double whammy for the NHS and patients”. And in a reference to the government’s unwillingness to unilaterally protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK, Davies said: “Theresa May has left it far too late to send out the message that professionals working here are desperately needed, and that she will give them priority in the Brexit negotiations.” She added: “It is no surprise that many feel they have no choice but to leave.”

The prime minister has said that she wants EU citizens living here to stay but has fallen short of protecting their rights to do so until an agreement is reached in Brexit negotiations. This is despite calls from industries across the UK, including the health sector, to unilaterally guarantee those rights.

In proposals published so far on immigration post-Brexit, the government has said that EU citizens already living in the UK will be able to apply for ‘settled status’. However the procedure for this is still being worked on. Whilst the UK is in the EU, EU citizens aren’t required to have proof of residency. But after the referendum, many uncertain over their future applied for permanent residency. After the last round of Brexit talks, the Brexit secretary David Davis said that those who have already applied for permanent residency will be able to “exchange it simply for settled status in a simple way”.


Image: © NHS Employers/Flickr
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