More nurses, midwives and health visitors are registered in the UK than ever before, according to new figures.
Almost 13,000 nurses from overseas registered
The number of people on the Nursing and Midwifery Council's register has increased 2% from last year.
There are now 655,854 people registered.
Provisional figures from the NMC show 31,677 registered for the first time in 2002 to 2003, including around 11,500 nurses and 900 midwives.
The increase also included 12,825 nurses and
midwives from outside the European Union and 804 from other parts of Europe.
There were 1,000 more new registrations between April 2002 and March 2003 than in the previous 12 months.
But 19,847 nurses, midwives and health visitors left the register between 2002 and 2003.
The NMC took over regulation of the nursing profession from the UK Central Council for Nursing and Midwifery a year ago.
Initially, there were problems and delays in registering people.
But chief executive Sarah Thewlis said: "We have, and are continuing to monitor,
access and develop initiatives to deliver a smoother registration process, which
means practitioners from the UK and abroad who have met our high standards can
get on with their job of caring for the public."
Jonathan Ashbridge, president of the NMC, said: "It is encouraging to see that we have
been able to translate the increasing demand to register as a nurse, midwife or
health visitor in the UK into actual numbers registered."