The number of UK-trained nurses has fallen with nearly half of new registrants being from outside the European Economic Area.
For the first time in several years, there has been a 25% increase in the number of nurses leaving the profession.
Official statistics released by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) reveal that between April and September 2021, a total of 13,945 people left, compared to 11,020 in the same period in 2020.
The last time that the total number of leavers was higher for the same period was in 2017.
The total number of nurses, midwives, and nursing associates joining the register for the first time was 24,036. Of these, nearly half (10,642) were from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
The total number of UK joiners was 13,078 between April and September, down from 14,410 in the same period last year. And 11,668 people from the UK left, up from 9,339.
Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), has warned against complacency as the data shows the UK’s home-grown workforce is not keeping up with demand.
Ms Sutcliffe said; “While nursing and midwifery professionals will do all they can to care for people, we know they are exhausted from coping with the impact of the pandemic.
“In these circumstances, I’m glad our latest registration data shows an increase in the numbers of nurses, midwives and nursing associates but we can’t be complacent. In the face of rising needs across the UK there are worrying signs this pace of growth won’t meet demand.
“Professionals from outside Europe are making an increasingly big contribution to the growth of our register. They make a vital and welcome difference to people’s health and wellbeing. But it’s concerning that the domestic picture is one of slowing growth, with fewer people from the UK joining the register, and more leaving.
50,000 more nurses by 2025.
An overall increase in the number of nursing staff will contribute towards Boris Johnson’s pre-election commitment of 50,000 more nurses by 2025.
Lacking investment in UK nurse training schemes demonstrates that an ever-increasing number of this workforce will originate from outside of the UK.
Pat Cullen, Chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, added; “Even though the register is growing, the number of nurses leaving it has reached its highest point, in this time period, in almost five years.”
Calling for long-term development in the profession, Ms Cullen added that policymakers needed to “to do more to stop nurses from leaving our profession”.