Around 12% of NHS staff in England are from outside of the UK, figures from the House of Commons Library showed on Monday (10 March).

The independent organisation said that figure included 5.5% (or just more than 60,000) who are EU nationals, and all together there are 205 different nationalities in the 1.2 million-strong workforce.

The data has been published amid a debate over the UK's future immigration policy as it splits from the EU, with Theresa May triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and starting two-year-long divorce talks in March.

Pro-Brexit pressure group Leave Means Leave has called for net migration to be slashed from more than 273,000 to 50,000, with a five-year freeze on unskilled migration.

"We need an immigration system that is fair, flexible and forward-thinking. It must be fair in its outlook, flexible in practice and forward thinking for our economy," said Steven Woolfe, an MEP and former migration spokesman for Ukip.

"Brexit is not about splendid isolation – it's about re-engaging with the world, without our wings clipped by the European Union."

The immigration issue was a major part of the EU referendum campaign and Vote Leave, the lead Brexit group, endorsed an Australian-style immigration system. But organisations such as pro-EU campaign group Open Britain have warned that an immigration crackdown could hurt the NHS.

"Our NHS would simply be unable to cope without the work done by over 60,000 staff from other EU countries," Joe Carberry, co-executive director of Open Britain, told IBTimes UK.

"We are facing a shortage of over 40,000 nurses, and GP surgeries are closing at a record rate. A draconian immigration system after Brexit would leave the NHS close to collapse.

"The British people voted to leave the EU, bute they did not vote to crash our economy and our public services. A hard Brexit is a real threat to our NHS."

Top 102 nationalities working in NHS England
Top 102 nationalities working in NHS England House of Commons Library