Figures reveal massive fall in nurses and midwives from Europe since Brexit vote

PUBLISHED: 08:32 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:32 08 May 2019

A nurse on a ward at a hospital. New figures which found more nurses are being trained in the UK amid a slump in those from the European Union have been hailed as

A nurse on a ward at a hospital. New figures which found more nurses are being trained in the UK amid a slump in those from the European Union have been hailed as "excellent news" by the Health Secretary. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

New figures show that the number of registered nurses and midwives from the European Economic Area registered in the UK highlight the massive fall since the Brexit vote.

According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the number of nurses and midwives decreased by 5.9% between March 2018 and March 2019, from 35,115 to 33,035.

The number of EEA nurses and midwives registering for the first time was just 968 between April 2018 and March 2019, up from the 805 who registered in 2017-2018 but a massive decrease compared to the 9,389 who registered in 2015-2016, before the Brexit referendum.

Elsewhere in the survey findings, 51% of those nurses and midwives who trained within the EU, left the register and responded to the survey stated Brexit as a reason for encouraging them to consider working outside the UK.

It has prompted anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain to publish an open letter, endorsed by the Royal College of Midwives CEO Gill Walton and signed by local midwives across the UK, slamming Brexit's impact on maternity services in the UK and calling for a final say on the Brexit deal.

Royal College of Midwives CEO and General Secretary, Gill Walton said: "EU midwives provide NHS care to tens of thousands of women every year and they make a vital contribution to the provision of care - we're lucky to have them.

"Unfortunately over the last year just thirty-three midwives arrived from elsewhere in the EU to work as midwives here in the UK and we used to count them in their hundreds.

"UK maternity services are already stretched and short-staffed, but Brexit threatens to make things even worse.

"It's my belief, and the firm belief of the Royal College of Midwives, that it should be we, the people, who make that decision about the future of our country, and not just a handful of politicians. All of us deserve a final say because this matters so much to the country, the NHS and our maternity services."

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Best for Britain supporter Clive Lewis MP said "the Brexit effect is already causing irrevocable damage to maternity services across the UK." "Without more staff and proper funding, experienced medical professionals from within the UK and across Europe will simply keep leaving, and it'll become ever harder for those that are left to meet the growing demands being placed on our NHS.

"It's clear that no form of Brexit can reassure EU-trained NHS staff that they'll have rights, jobs and a future in the UK once Brexit becomes a reality. This is why we need a confirmatory public vote on any deal parliament finally agrees on."

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the Health and Social Care Committee and a leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign, said: "We now know that Brexit is already causing huge damage to our NHS, with far fewer nurses and midwives arriving from Europe. This is intensifying an already serious shortfall in qualified healthcare staff and is putting our health service into a critical condition.

"Over the last year, the number of EEA nurses and midwives arriving to work in the NHS was just 968, a massive fall from the 9,389 who arrived in 2015-2016, the year before the Brexit referendum.

"No-one voted for a Brexit that leaves our NHS worse-off, with a huge shortfall of the qualified staff it so desperately needs. With so many of the promises about Brexit now broken, especially the promises Brexiters made about our health service, we need a People's Vote so the public can have the final say."

The government however branded it "excellent news" that the figures showed more nurses are being trained in the UK.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: "Nursing is such a rewarding job, as I know from family experience. At the heart of the NHS are thousands of nurses and midwives working tirelessly to provide incredible care to people in need every day.

"It's excellent news to see more nurses and midwives are joining our brilliant NHS from at home and abroad and we value each and every one.

"As we put £33.9 billion extra into our NHS we need to see yet more people to more people to make a career in our health service and make it the best possible employer for existing staff."

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