Official figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have found that there are 3,000 fewer nurses working in the National Health Service from the European Economic Area (EEA) than in the same period a year ago.
Some 3,962 staff from the EEA left the NMC register between 2017 and 2018, while the number of nurses coming into the UK from the European Union (EU) fell to just 805 in 2017-18. The previous year that figure stood at 6,382.
Discussing the decline in talent working within the UK health sector, Michael Johnson-Ellis, managing director of specialist recruitment agency, Healthier recruitment, said: “As an organisation which is on the front line of recruitment into the NHS we are already witnessing chronic talent shortages. Many of the organisations that we work with have already found that sourcing the appropriate number of staff, with the correct skills mix, is becoming increasingly challenging, particularly with regards to permanent recruitment. With this in mind, these latest figures do cause concern.
“In our experience, the government’s hesitancy to confirm the rights of the three million EU citizens post-Brexit has, of course, had an impact on the future plans of some nurses who once chose the UK as a destination to build their lives and careers.
“Against this backdrop, we support the position of the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Janet Davies, who has gone on record to say ‘Nurses returning home, or giving Britain a miss entirely, are doing so because their rights are not clear enough.’
“However, while more certainty in this area should have a positive impact on the retention and attraction of EU talent long-term, many clients are reporting more immediate concerns around staffing.
“Until we find a way to reverse the talent dearth that the UK’s healthcare sector is currently facing, organisations which are struggling with staffing must concentrate on implementing strategic workforce planning strategies to maximise available resources to maintain patient safety levels.”