The number of nurses and midwives coming to work in Britain from Europe has plunged by 89% since Brexit, figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) have revealed.
The figures also show a 67% rise in the number of EU nurses leaving the NMC's register: from 2,435 in 2015-16 to 4,067 in the last year.
Jeremy Hunt recently said he was "confident" EU staff in the NHS would be able to stay, but could not give a firm guarantee.
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said:
"The callous approach of the Conservatives is already making nurses and doctors feel unwelcome when they have come here to contribute to the health of our nation.
“David Davis often says that European workers only make up 3% of our NHS work force, but I would suggest that as his spinal column makes up 3% of his body mass, that small percentage is critical.”
“Our health and social care services could not function without existing EU staff and access to the pool of talent we are currently able to recruit from.
“It is not good enough for the government to say it is confident NHS staff from the EU will be able to stay.
“Ministers must give a cast-iron guarantee that the European nurses and doctors who keep our health service afloat can stay here no matter what."