How low are the nurse numbers and does it look like it's going to get better?

Last year in July there were 1,304 from the EU who joined the Nursing and Midwifery Council, in sharp contrast to this year where there were 46 who were recorded, making it a fall of 96%. Research conducted in May by the Royal College of Nursing found that 1 in 9 posts in England was currently vacant. The Union said according to these statistics the NHS was actually 40,000 nurses short of what it needs to run smoothly.

The Health Foundation, which obtained the figures via a freedom of information request, said there was a shortage of 30,000 nurses in England alone, adding that the NHS could not afford such a drop.

Anita Charlesworth, the charity’s director of research and economics, said: “Without EU nurses it will be even harder for the NHS and other employers to find the staff they need to provide safe patient care. The findings should be a wake-up call to politicians and health service leaders."

Vital for EU staff to be given assurances

Theresa May has claimed Britain could not unilaterally guarantee EU citizens’ rights as doing so would weaken her hand in the Brexit negotiations. Janet Davies, the chief executive and general secretary of the RCN (Royal College of Nurses) said it was vital for EU staff to be given assurances about their futures in the country. She also states “We rely on the contributions of EU staff and this drop in numbers could have severe consequences for patients and their families,” she said.

“Our nursing workforce is in a state of crisis. Across our health service, from A&E to elderly care, this puts patients at serious risk."

A Department Of Health spokeswoman said: “We understand the need to give valued NHS staff from the EU certainty, which is exactly why we have made clear that the future of those EU nationals working in our health and care system should be a priority in Brexit negotiations.

We also have over 52,000 nurses in training to ensure the NHS has the nurses it needs.”

Nursing was added to the immigration shortage occupation list in 2015 because of the need for nurses and the difficulties in recruiting from outside the EU due to tougher immigration rules. In April, Department of Health estimates leaked to Health Service Journal suggested that in a worst case scenario the NHS could see a shortage of 42,000 nurses by 2026.

So far this is the worst shortage they have dealt with in the last 20 years.

The situation as it is now

An ageing population; there are one million more people over the age of 65 than five years ago.

Cuts to budgets for social care: While the NHS budget has been protected, social services for home helps and other care have fallen by 11 per cent in five years.

This has caused record levels of bed blocking, meaning elderly people with no medical need to be in hospital are stuck there.

Meanwhile, rising numbers of patients are turning up in A&E - around four million more in the last decade, partly fuelled by the aging population.

Shortages of GPs mean waiting times to see a doctor have got longer, and many argue that access to doctors since a 2004 contract removed responsibility for out of hours care.

Another hindrance has been the introduction of new tougher language testing by the NMC since June 2016, deterring or delaying applicants.

Nurses need to be happy in their work

It is evident that a nurse shortage is concerning to everyone who is thinking about the health sector in the U.K and should definitely get solved in a timely manner. More importantly, negotiations with current nurses should be carried out to insure they are duly compensated, happy with their working environment, and are encouraged to continue working and doing their best to provide quality healthcare.

Overall there are 650,000 nurses on the register. Just over 36,000 of these have been trained in the EU, 5.5% of the total. Another 67,000 come from outside the EU with the remainder from the U.K.