EUROPEAN nurses working in the NHS are leaving the UK in droves after Brexit, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has claimed.

Their latest statistics show 4067 nurses from the EU left their job last year, a rise of around 67 per cent from 2435 in the previous year.

The figures also detail an 89 per cent fall in the number of nurses coming from the EU to work in the UK.

Alarmingly, the data also shows a huge hike in the number of UK-trained nurses and midwives leaving, up by 11 per cent, from 26,653 in 2015-16 to 29,019 last year.

The exodus means wards in Scotland could face a staffing crisis sooner rather than later.

Jackie Smith, chief executive of the Nursing & Midwifery Council, said: “We are seeing a continuing rise in nurses and midwives leaving the register and our data is clear that this is being driven by both UK and EU registrants.”

Janet Davies, the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These dramatic figures should set alarm bells ringing in Whitehall and every UK health department. [They] represent a double whammy for the NHS and patients.”

SNP MSP Clare Haughey, who is deputy convener of Holyrood’s Health Committee and a registered mental health nurse, warned that the figures revealed the damage the Tories were doing to the NHS.

She said: “These latest stats show once again the dangers this Tory government pose to our NHS.

“Tory policies are actively damaging the NHS by driving away the very staff who allow it to exist, and putting up barriers to others that might want to pay us the privilege of working here.

“It is absolutely shameful – yet no surprise given the nature of this anti-immigrant Tory government, who would rather pander to the hard-right elements in their own party than develop policies that support our public services.

“Make no mistake – our NHS relies on staff from all over the world working within it. The blame for this eyewatering increase in the number of EU citizens leaving the nursing register lies firmly with the Tories.

“The Scots Tories are always keen to cry crocodile tears about staffing in the NHS. If they really cared, they wouldn’t turn a blind eye to reports like this.”

Scottish LibDem health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said the Tories were to blame for EU nurses “feeling unwelcome”.

He added: “David Davis often says that European workers only make up 3 per cent of our NHS work force, but I would suggest that as his spinal column makes up 3 per cent of his body mass, that small percentage is critical.”