The number of nurses and midwives leaving the profession over the last 12 months continues to rise at a “worrying” rate with growing numbers of staff from both the UK and EU walking away from their roles, according to official figures.
More than 29,000 people form the UK left the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register in the year to September 2017, compared to 26,653 over the previous 12 months – an increase of 9%. The number of nurses and midwives from Europe leaving the register has also increased by 67 per cent – from 2,435 last year compared to 4,067 this year.
Meanwhile, the number joining the register from the EU has decreased by 89% from 10,178 in 2016 to 1,107 this year. Nurses and midwives leaving the profession from the rest of the world rose to 2,277 compared to 2,090 last year.
Jackie Smith, chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said the trend is “worrying… and our data is clear that this is being driven by both UK and EU registrants”.
She added: “These figures continue to highlight the major challenges faced by the UK’s health and care sectors around the recruitment and retention of staff. Nurses and midwives work incredibly hard in very difficult circumstances. Those responsible for workforce matters will no doubt respond to what these trends are showing.”
Jon Skewes, Director for Policy, Employment Relations and Communications at the Royal College of Midwives said; “This latest report by the NMC is concerning. Despite showing that the number of midwives leaving the register remains static. What is worrying for the RCM is the slow pace at which midwives are in fact joining the NMC register.
“Given the fact we remain 3,500 midwives short in England alone the concern for the RCM is how we will ever narrow the gap on the current shortage of midwives.
“The RCM has previously warned that years of pay restraint and staffing shortages in the midwifery profession would affect the recruitment and retention of NHS midwives and discourage those interested in a career in midwifery and this is what is happening.
“Also, the impact of Brexit and the uncertainty for midwives from other European countries in also evident in this report with a significant reduction in EU midwives joining the register clearly highlighted in this report".