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Exodus fears as more Scottish nurses seek opportunities abroad

The number of nurses and midwives seeking to leave Scotland’s crisis-hit NHS to work overseas has soared in recent years, new data has revealed.

Last year, 583 nurses and midwives who live in Scotland sought approval from the Nursing and Midwifery Council to relocate abroad, a 62% increase from the year before and double the rate of 2018/19.

Australia is by far the most popular destination to pursue new professional opportunities with 359 submissions last year, followed by New Zealand and the USA.

The statistics were obtained by pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union through Freedom of Information.

The findings come amid a workforce crisis in Scotland’s health service which has placed incredible pressure on dedicated nurses.

Nurses and midwives who want to continue their careers in a different country have to seek a Certificate of Current Professional Status from the NMC.

On that, they declare their proposed destination country.

Other popular nations to relocate to for Scottish-based nurses and midwives in the past year include Ireland (39), Canada (26) and the United Arab Emirates (18).

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said:

“It’s concerning that the working conditions for so many nurses and midwives working in Scotland’s NHS are so poor that they have decided that their future lies elsewhere.

“Our hospitals are already struggling to fill vacancies and replace retiring medical professionals.

“Now hundreds more are considering leaving to work elsewhere in the world.

“The crisis in our NHS is not inevitable, and it cannot be blamed on Covid.

"This is the result of 16 years of mismanagement from the SNP and the decisions that its politicians have made.

“Perhaps if there had been more focus on supporting our public services instead of obsessing over breaking up Britain then our nurses would not be leaving in droves.

“The SNP/Green Government is in sole charge of the NHS, and has to take responsibility for this situation.

“It must set out how it plans to replace these valuable members of staff and tackle the workforce crisis that has put too much pressure on our amazing nurses, and how it intends to make Scotland’s NHS a more attractive place to work so fewer people see their future elsewhere.”


The figures were obtained by Scotland in Union through Freedom of Information.

The below table shows the total number of Certificates of Current Professional Status (CCPS) provided by NMC for professionals with an address in Scotland by financial year and proposed destination country:


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