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Round-up of last month’s main workforce and policy news affecting UK nurses

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Drop in EU nurses continues, driving NMC register decline

The fall in the number of nurses and midwives registered to practise in the UK is continuing to fall, with new figures showing the Nursing and Midwifery Councils register has shrunk by around 500 over the past 12 months.

“The number of people from the EU leaving our register remains a major concern”

Jackie Smith

Data published on 25 April shows at the end of March 2018 there were 690,278 nurses and midwives on the register, which is 495 fewer than in March 2017. Brexit and problems with staffing levels were cited as key reasons by nurses for leaving the register.

However, the drop is not as great as it was during the year before, largely because of an increase in the number of UK nurses and midwives joining the register.

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: “It’s good to see the numbers from the UK stabilise, but if we look at the pattern over the last few years, it’s a decline. The number of people from the EU leaving our register remains a major concern.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies said the figures showed efforts to boost nurse staffing were being “dragged down by a botched Brexit”. “Starting to stem the loss of British nurses is welcome but the real battle is to inspire young people to join the profession,” she added.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “The small rise in the number of home-grown nurses provides the faintest glimmer of hope, but it’s still way short of what’s needed to provide the care required.”