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In the news: EU nurse and midwife numbers decline

Latest figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), show that the number of nurses and midwives from the EU wanting to move to the UK has declined since the Brexit referendum.

The figures from the NMC concern the number of nurses and midwives registered to work in the UK, rather than actually working. Just over 36,200 EU nurses and midwives were on the register in September, which is 2,700 less than 2016.

The number of EU nurses and midwives leaving the register in the 12 months to September 2017 went up by 67% compared to the same time last year, but ministers say an increase in training places would make up for the decline. However, union leaders say the government may find it difficult to fill the places after the removal of bursaries for nursing degrees and introduction of fees.

Research by the Royal College of Nursing found that one in nine nurse and midwife places are unfilled – almost 40,000 – a finding that the NMC called “worrying”.

1,000 EU nurses and midwives have joined the register in the last year, though this is a drop of 89% on sign-ups in 2016. The NMC have suggested that the decline in new registrations could be down to the new English language testing, as well as the Brexit referendum last June.

General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Janet Davies, said the figures weren’t surprising, given these developments. “These alarming new figures represent a double whammy for the NHS and patients”, she said.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the number of new training places to be made available would increase by 25% over the next few years, and that MPs were “very clear” around how valued EU nationals would remain as part of the the UK workforce post-Brexit.

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