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EDINBURGH (Reuters) - The number of European Union nurses registering to work in Britain has dropped by 96 percent since July last year, the country's Health Foundation said on Monday, in what it described as a wake-up call to politicians.
Critics of Brexit have said the country's economy may suffer if business and the public services cannot recruit the staff they need once the country leaves the European Union.
According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council data, a high of 1,304 EU nurses applied to work in Britain in July last year, shortly after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
That number fell to 344 in September and in April this year it was down to 46, it said.
The council added that Britain had increasingly been using foreign nurses, mostly from the EU, to cover staff shortfalls over a decade. The BBC said the introduction of an English language test for EU nurses had also likely played a role in the reduction.
"The findings should be a wake-up call to politicians and health service leaders," said Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation.
"The overall shortage of 30,000 nurses is not a shortage caused by the Brexit vote. The chronic shortage of nurses is the result of years of short-term planning and cuts to training places. A sustainable, long-term approach to workforce planning is desperately needed."
Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Toby Chopra