The UK Government has been warned that Britain could face a shortage of 20,000 nurses and midwives by 2020.
The Open Britain campaign group for close ties with the EU said fewer than 300 European nurses a year would come to work in the UK if the drop in applications since last June’s referendum continues over the coming years.
This compares to more than 7,000 a year in the period before the referendum, the campaigners said, citing Nursing and Midwifery Council and Health Foundation figures.
If the current rate of decline continues, the shortfall in nurses and midwives could increase to 20,337 by 2020, Open Britain said.
Midwives are set to be in particular demand. “There are at least 1,400 midwives from other EU countries working in our NHS who make a vital contribution to our short-staffed and under pressure maternity services,” said Jon Skewes, director for policy at the Royal College of Midwives.
“Recent figures show that that number of EU midwives practising in the UK has plummeted as uncertainty around their status drives them away. England already has a generation long shortage of midwives with a current shortfall of 3,500 midwives and this is not sustainable.”
He added: “This is also about ensuring the future supply of the midwifery workforce and EU midwives are a vital part of that, and the Government must give them the right to remain in the UK.”
The news comes after Government figures showed that the NHS is suffering from its worst shortage of nurses ever, with the number of unfilled posts doubling in three years to 40,000.
Article published 12th September 2017