NHS nurse
Number of EU nurses registering to work in Britain plummets following Brexit vote. Reuters

The number of European Union nurses and midwives registering to work in the UK has seen a substantial decline in the wake of the Brexit vote, according to fresh data.

Figures compiled by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) indicate that applications fell by nearly 90% in the 12 months to September.

The first full-year figures since the UK voted to leave the EU indicate that the number of nationals from the bloc joining the profession in the country was 10,178 in the year to September 2016, but fell to 1,107 in the year to September 2017.

The number of nurses and midwives from the EU leaving the profession also rose sharply. A total of 4,067 EU nationals in the profession left this year, compared to 2,435 last year, the NMC figures show.

At present, EU workers make up 5% of the NMC's register.

Jackie Smith, chief executive and registrar of the NMC, said: "These figures continue to highlight the major challenges faced by the UK's health and care sectors around the recruitment and retention of staff.

"Nurses and midwives work incredibly hard in very difficult circumstances. Those responsible for workforce matters will no doubt respond to what these trends are showing."

However, in response to the data, the Department for Health said 3,193 more EU nationals are working in the UK's health services than at the time of the June 2016 referendum.