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Half of new nurses trained outside the UK, NMC finds

Almost half of new nurse registrants trained outside the UK, nursing registrar the NMC concludes from its annual data report.

The annual update of the NMC register shows an increase in the ranks of 26,403 (3.48%) to 758,303, fuelled by an increase in the register of 13,919 first time registrants.

However, the number of people leaving the register has risen by 3,199 (13.37%) to 27,133 – reversing a downward trend in leavers over the recent years.

The main reasons cited for leaving the register included too much pressure, and poor workplace culture. COVID-19 has also had an influence, with people raising health worries, increased workloads and a lack of staff.

Travel restrictions meant the number of internationally trained joiners fell sharply in 2020–2021. However, during 2021-22, 23,408 non UK-trained professionals joined the NMC register (66 percent of whom trained in India or the Philippines).

In contrast, the number of UK-trained joiners increased by 1.9%, from 24,555 in 2020–2021 to 25,028 last year. This led to a near even split between domestic and internationally trained new professionals over the past year.

Commenting, James Buchan, senior visiting fellow at the Health Foundation, said: “Today’s data from the NMC again shows that the NHS is turning to non-UK workers to plug large gaps in the nursing workforce.

“But international recruitment is very much a short-term quick fix solution that may come at the expense of long-term workforce planning and domestic supply and risks nurses not being recruited in the right places with the right skills.”

In addition, he noted: “Recruiting staff from Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe, countries that are desperately in need of health care staff, also needs to be a significant consideration in any workforce recruitment drive.”

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