The RCN is urging the Government to give nursing staff more clarity on their rights to work in the UK after Brexit following the release of new figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
The figures show that between April 2017 and March 2018, over 3,000 EU nurses and midwives left the NMC register – an increase of 29%.
The figures also show a significant drop in the number of people joining the register from the EU. Over the same period, only 805 EU nurses and midwives joined compared with 6,382 the year before – a drop of 87%.
Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive, said: “It feels that efforts to boost the number of nurses are being dragged down by a botched Brexit.
“Nurses returning home, or giving Britain a miss entirely, are doing so because their rights are not clear enough. Theresa May must use every opportunity to say they are welcome here and valued in health care.”
The NMC surveyed nurses and midwives from both the UK and EU who left the register between June and November 2017 to find out their reasons for leaving. EU nurses and midwives cited leaving the UK and Brexit as their top reasons.
Figures from the NMC show a small decline in the overall number of nurses and midwives on the NMC register with 495 fewer at the end of March 2018 than the previous year.
“Starting to stem the loss of British nurses is welcome but the real battle is to inspire young people to join the profession,” Janet stressed.
“Higher starting salaries should go some way but the Government can and should go much further by supporting students with grants and launching a powerful national advertising and recruitment campaign.
“As the overall number of nursing staff falls again, it is patients who will worry the most. The Government knows patients can pay the highest price when staff shortages bite.
“Each country of the UK needs a funded and detailed plan to boost nurse numbers and ensure safe patient care.”