MSP “gravely concerned” by further evidence that Brexit will harm NHS

MSP Joan McAlpine has expressed grave concern about the impact of Brexit on the region’s health service – after it was confirmed that a record number of EU nurses quit the UK last year.

A total of 3,962 nurses and midwives from the European Economic Area (EEA) left the Nursing and Midwifery Council register between 2017 and 2018.

The number was 28% more than the 3,081 who left in 2016-17 and three times higher than the 1,311 who did so in 2013-14.

At the same time, the number of EU nurses and midwives coming to work in the UK has fallen to its lowest level, with just over 800 joining the NMC register last year – a staggering 87 per cent drop from 2016-17 total.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“Scotland’s NHS has strengths which its UK counterparts clearly lack – but of course we face very real challenges here too.

“Recruitment and retention of staff is one of the most pressing issues facing us in Dumfries and Galloway – and unfortunately efforts to make progress on this are being seriously undermined by Brexit.

“The workforce of the NHS in Scotland – and across the UK – has always included a significant proportion of health professionals from the EU.

“In 2016 the health board in Dumfries and Galloway reached out to EU citizens encouraging them to come and work in the region. Sadly these numbers prove that the refusal of the UK Government to protect the rights of EU immigrants means measures like these are no longer an option. “


  • Brexit emerged as a key reason why EU-trained staff are stopping working in the UK in interviews the NMC conducted with 3,496 people who left the register between June and November 2017.
  • Almost half (47%) of the 227 EEA nurses and midwives who responded agreed that “Brexit has encouraged me to consider working outside the UK”, while 59% said: “I am leaving or have left the UK.”