Exodus of EU-born Nurses and Midwives Leaving UK

The people of the United Kingdom voted last year to end their involvement with the European Union. Since then, a worrying trend has emerged for the National Health Service, as it now finds itself short of healthcare staff.

Amid concerns over their legal status, more and more nurses and midwives hailing from nations remaining in the EU have decided to leave Britain. Add that to the rapidly falling numbers of foreign health care professionals entering the UK, and the NHS has a real crisis on its hands.

Figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) confirms that an 89% drop in health professionals entering the UK has occurred. The NMC registrar also proves that many are leaving the country in droves.

Between 2015 and 2016, 2,435 nurses and midwives of European descent left the registrar, compared to 4,067 just one year later. That’s a drop of 67%. Another troubling figure shows that UK-born professionals are not replacing those who are leaving or not entering the country.

Only 29,019 new nurses and midwives entered the NMC registrar this past year, compared to 26,653 in the year before. That is a rise of just 11%, not nearly enough staff to cover those choosing to do a reverse Brexit.

The NMC also released some other figures to give some context to the exodus.

Between 2012 and 2016 an average of some 1,966 nurses entered the UK from Spain alone, compared to just 104 since the Brexit vote. During that same time period Romanian nurses and midwives were entering Great Britain at an average of 1,604, as opposed to only 204 in the past year.

The problem is affecting other health care positions as well. Since the vote, the NHS estimates almost 10,000 doctors, other nurses and general health staff have left the UK in the wake of Brexit.

Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Janet Davies, has referred to this exodus as a ‘double whammy’, referring to the fact that not only are new nurses not available, but current health professionals are also leaving the country.

Theresa May’s government has recently committed to training scores of new nurses and midwives, but the short-term future will be tough no matter what. A chief analyst from the King’s Fund health thinktank, Siva Andandaciva, points out that training nurses takes many years, and will not meet the short-term needs of British patients.

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