Official figures show a drop of 96% in the number of nurses from the EU registering to work as Nurses in the UK.

In July 2016 the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) statistics show 1,304 EU nurses came to work in the UK - this fell to just 46 in April 2017 – an overall decrease of 96% since the EU referendum.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said it was “a staggering drop and one that worries the RCM greatly.

Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, has said: “The government is turning off the supply of qualified nurses from around the world at the very moment the health service is in a staffing crisis like never before.”

We currently have a huge shortage of nurses, with 24,000 jobs unfilled in England.

The government has made concessions over the past few years to encourage the immigration of foreign nurses coming to the UK by including them on the Shortage Occupations List. However, other areas of UK immigration legislation are acting as a deterrent, such as the introduction of rigorous English language testing. Some medical recruiters consider the drop in numbers is also due to the huge number of potential foreign nurses failing the English language tests including nurses from English speaking countries such as Australia. These same recruiters also believe that many British nurses would also fail the International English Language Testing System test (IELTS).

Since October 2014, the only route to registration for all nurses trained outside the UK and EEA with the NMC is through a 2-part application process:

  • Part one – a computer based multiple-choice examination which will be accessible in many countries around the world for applicants to access in their home countries.
  • Part two – a practical objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) which will always be held in the UK.

For those sponsored by an employer, it is expected that the sponsorship will formally start from the date of the scheduled OSCE, with arrival permitted up to 14 days ahead of that date. The sponsor may choose to continue to offer sponsorship in cases where the individual needs to re-sit the OSCE.

For those without sponsorship who wish to travel to the UK to take the OSCE examination, a visitor visa provision is in place. This allows nurses and midwives to enter the UK on a six-month visitor visa specifically to take the OSCE.