Half of registered Nurses and Midwives have been recruited from abroad

According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (“NMC”) ‘Annual Data Report’ for 2021 to 2022 published on 18 May 2022, nearly half of the UK’s newly recruited registered Nurses and Midwives trained outside of the UK, with a total of more than 23,000 joining from overseas, a record high.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive of the NMC has questioned whether this level of international recruitment is sustainable in the long term. It also raises concerns over the UK’s ability to increase staffing levels through domestic recruitment.

What does the data demonstrate?

The NMC data for 2021-22 shows a rise of 26,500 to more than 758,000 nurses and midwives on the register, the highest number ever. However, this comes with one in five of those being recruited internationally. The data also suggests that people leaving the profession had risen, with more than 27,000 leaving the register in the previous year, up 13% from the year before. Of those who have left the profession, nearly one in five people cited their reason for leaving because the job came with “too much pressure”. Other reasons for leaving included poor workplace culture, increased workloads and a lack of staff.

Why is this such a concern?

Andrea Sutcliffe from the NMC said it was “good news” that the register was at the highest level ever, especially given the pressures and context of the past two years. However, the extent to which the UK had become reliant on internationally trained staff was “another note of caution”. This is because the supply of international recruits could always be disrupted by global events or even another pandemic.

Royal College of Nursing General Secretary Pat Cullen, questioned the sustainability and ethics of surrounding the  level of recruitment from abroad and said that  increased investment in domestic training and better pay for staff is necessary.

The overall number of nurses who are training domestically has started to rise after the reintroduction of Government funding support for student nurses in 2020. This is just three years after bursaries were scrapped by the Conservative Government.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that the overall rise in nurse numbers was positive. The Government are aiming to achieve the manifesto promise  of recruiting 50,000 more nurses by 2024.

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