The number of nurses and midwives eligible to practise in the UK, and nursing associates who can practise in England, continues to rise.

  • Mid-year report shows that NMC register of nurses, midwives and nursing associates has grown by 13,011 to 744,929.
  • A big driver of growth is more than 10,600 professionals from outside Europe joining the register between April and September.
  • There’s been an overall increase in people leaving the register, now at the highest level for the period since 2017.

However, the overall number of people leaving the professions has increased – for the first time in several years. Between April and September, a total of 13,945 people left, compared to 11,020 in the same period in 2020. The last time that the total number of leavers was higher for the same period was in 2017.

The number of people joining the register for the first time was 24,036. Of these, 10,642 were from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). This compares to 2,107 during the same period last year, when the pandemic caused a drop in international joiners. There were 4,585 new joiners from outside the EEA in the six months to September 2019, before the pandemic.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, said:

“Health and care services are facing severe pressures as we head into winter. While nursing and midwifery professionals will do all they can to care for people, we know they are exhausted from coping with the impact of the pandemic.

“In these circumstances, I’m glad our latest registration data shows an increase in the numbers of nurses, midwives and nursing associates but we can’t be complacent. In the face of rising needs across the UK there are worrying signs this pace of growth won’t meet demand.

“Professionals from outside Europe are making an increasingly big contribution to the growth of our register. They make a vital and welcome difference to people’s health and wellbeing. But it’s concerning that the domestic picture is one of slowing growth, with fewer people from the UK joining the register, and more leaving.

“This highlights the need for national and local leaders to collaborate on a sustainable strategy to attract, support and retain nurses, midwives and nursing associates across health and social care.

“Even more urgently, we all need to work together to tackle the physical and mental pressure the pandemic is bringing to bear on the professions. If we don’t, I’m afraid we may see more nursing and midwifery professionals leave the register in the future.”

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