Commenting, Lib Dem health spokesperson and former health minister Norman Lamb said:
"These figures are extremely concerning. For the first time we have more nurses and midwives leaving the profession than joining it, with a sharp rise in U.K. nurses and midwives deciding to leave the country and practice overseas.
"Alongside the drop in the number of EU nurses choosing to come here, it is an extremely worrying picture. Who will fill the gap?
"Poor working conditions and stagnant wages are a big contributor to this problem and the government needs to take immediate action to tackle this.
"We must end the public sector pay cap which has seen nurses and midwives having their pay slashed in real terms for too long, and there must be a cross party convention, engaging patients, staff and the public, to look at the long term sustainability and funding of our NHS so that nursing is a profession that people want to go into, and stay in."