The number of EU nurses registering to work in the UK as fallen by more than 95% since the EU referendum, putting further strain on an NHS.

The number of EU nurses joining the Nursing and Midwifery Council in the UK fell from 1,304 last July to 46 this April.

The Health Foundation warn that the drop should serve as a “wake-up call” to the government, which still refuses to guarantee EU nationals living in the UK a right to stay after Brexit.

Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation said:

“The recruitment and retention of nurses is one of the biggest challenges facing health and social care, with a shortage of 30,000 nurses in England alone.

“The drop in EU nurses registering to work in the UK could not be more stark – just 46 registered to work in the UK in April. Without EU nurses it will be even harder for the NHS and other employers to find the staff they need to provide safe patient care. The findings should be a wake-up call to politicians and health service leaders.

“Clearly action is needed to offset any further loss of EU nursing staff in the near future. But the overall shortage of 30,000 nurses is not a shortage caused by the Brexit vote. The chronic shortage of nurses is the result of years of short-term planning and cuts to training places. A sustainable, long-term approach to workforce planning is desperately needed.”

The report comes after research by the Royal College of Nursing that found one in nine nursing posts in England was vacant, and the continued pay freeze has caused some nurses to rely on food banks to make ends meet.

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