Fewer EU nurses are registering to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) than ever before. Figures showed that just 46 nurses registered in April compared to 1,304 in July 2016 and that for the first time since 2008, more nurses are leaving the profession than joining it.

Why have registration figures dropped by 96%?

Reasons cited for nurses turning their back on the career included poor working conditions, inadequate pay and long hours. The impact is also being felt by domestic and overseas workers.

The impact of new English language testing

However, the introduction of new English language testing protocols to the NMC, which set language requirements at an ‘academic’ rather than ‘working’ level, is potentially the most important cause of the significant drop in overseas staff coming to the UK.

In the UK, 12% of all NHS staff in England are foreign, which equates to around 134,000 staff

In fact, industry professionals are claiming that the tests struck a harder blow on nursing recruitment than the potential impact of Brexit. Reasons for this could be because:

  • the tests are too difficult
  • they are costly
  • they take too long to complete
  • the risk of not passing the test surpasses the desire of joining the NMC

In the UK, 12% of all NHS staff in England are foreign, which equates to around 134,000 staff. Of this, 60,000 are EU nationals, which highlights the role EU staff play in keeping the UK health service from grinding to a halt. EU staff also make up almost 10% of doctors and 5% of scientific, therapeutic and technical staff. 

Despite the pressure and uncertainty of the English language tests - and the continuing impasse on Brexit - Randstad is committed to providing staff that provide the highest quality of care.

We have thousands of nurses, amongst many other health and social care candidates, registered with us who are ready to work. We are also continuing to support all staff with any training needs, to ensure that candidates are up to date with the latest regulations, and are fully equipped to provide top class care.