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NHS staff from overseas: statistics

Published Wednesday, October 18, 2017

62,000 NHS staff in England are EU nationals - 5.6% of all staff. Overall, 12% of NHS staff say that their nationality is not British. This briefing explores the nationality of NHS staff for doctors, nurses and other categories. Following the Brexit vote, there has been discussion around the future status of NHS staff from the EU.

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Graphic: One NHS, Many NationalitiesClick thumbnail to enlarge graphic: One NHS, Many Nationalities

The majority of NHS staff in England are British – but a substantial minority are not. Around 138,000 out of 1.1 million staff report a non-British nationality. This is around 12% of all staff for whom a nationality is known. Between them, these staff hold 200 different non-British nationalities. Around 62,000 are nationals of other EU countries - 5.6% of NHS staff in England. Around 45,000 staff are Asian nationals.



Nationality as recorded by the NHS is self-reported, so it may sometimes reflect a person's cultural heritage rather than their citizenship or country of birth. For around 7% of NHS workers, nationality is unknown. The percentages here exclude staff whose nationality is unknown.

10% of doctors and 7% of nurses are EU nationals

Nationals of other EU countries make up almost 10% of doctors in England's hospital and community health services. They also make up just over 7% of all nurses and 5% of scientific, therapeutic and technical staff. The percentage of doctors and nurses with EU nationality grew between 2009 and 2016, but has changed little since the EU referendum.

36% of hospital doctors gained their primary medical qualification outside the UK. 20% qualified in Asia and 9% qualified in the EU. For GPs, 4% qualified in the EU and 13% qualified in Asia.


One-third of all EU nationals in the NHS work in London

The highest concentration of staff with other EU nationalities is in London. One-third of all EU NHS staff work in London. In North West London, those with EU nationality make up 12% of all NHS staff. There are 37 NHS trusts where over 10% of staff are estimated to be nationals of other EU countries; 30 of these are in London and the South East.

In all regions, there are more staff from 'old' EU countries (those which were members before 2004, such as Spain and Italy) than 'new' EU countries (those which have joined since 2004, such as Poland and Romania).


EU nationals have fallen as a percentage of those joining the NHS

In 2015/16, 11% of those joining the NHS were EU nationals (counting those for whom a nationality was known). In 2016/17, this fell to 9%. For nurses the percentage of EU joiners fell from 19% in 2015/16 to 12% in 2016/17.

In 2016/17, 11% of nurses leaving the NHS were EU nationals, up from 9% in 2015/16.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7783

Author: Carl Baker

Topics: Europe, Health services, Health staff and professions, Immigration, Medicine, Nationality

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