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There's been a 96% drop in EU nurses going to work in the UK since Brexit

Last July, 1,304 nurses from the EU registered in the UK but only 46 registered this April.

Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

NEW FIGURES FROM the UK have shown a drastic reduction in the number of nurses from other countries in the EU registering to work in Britain.

In July of last year, 1,304 nurses from the EU registered in Britain. That number had fallen drastically to 344 just two months later in September.

In April, just 46 EU nurse registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). To become a practising nurse or midwife in the UK, you must register with the NMC.

The figures were released to the Health Foundation under a Freedom of Information request.

The UK has repeatedly faces staff shortages in the nursing sector, and has recruited from Europe and further afield to plug the gap.

Around 57,000 EU nationals work in the NHS in the UK, with nurses accounting for 20,000 of these.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said: “The recruitment and retention of nurses is one of the biggest challenges facing health and social care, with a shortage of 30,000 nurses in England alone.

The drop in EU nurses registering to work in the UK could not be more stark – just 46 registered to work in the UK in April. Without EU nurses it will be even harder for the NHS and other employers to find the staff they need to provide safe patient care. The findings should be a wake-up call to politicians and health service leaders.

Recruitment and retention of nurses has been a problem in Ireland’s health service also with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) warning earlier this year that nearly 2,000 skilled nursing staff leave the country each year.

INMO General Secretary Liam Doran also told TheJournal.ie in January that Irish nurses are sought after abroad and that the UK is usually an attractive proposition.

“In the UK, for example, they’re offering at least the same pay, bonuses are better, working hours are better, so are the staff levels,” Doran added.

Last month, Health Minister Simon Harris gave a commitment that student nurses and midwives would be offered full-time contracts after they graduated.

Harris said that he had “heard loud and clear from your union that we are only going to succeed if we attach the kind of priority to recruitment and retention that has never been seen before and that is exactly what we are doing”.

The Minister added that these weren’t simply “soothing political words”.

Read: ‘Sick and tired’: Why Ireland’s’ nurses are leaving in their droves

Read: Simon Harris commits to giving graduating Irish student nurses full-time contracts

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Sean Murray

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