Following the news that an increasing number of EU born NHS workers are deciding to leave Britain, the health service has raised its concerns about staff shortages. The NHS says that workers from the European Union must be guaranteed the right to remain in the UK post Brexit to avoid putting patient’s safety at risk.
Polls show that the majority of NHS managers believe the lack of doctors and nurses is the biggest risk to patient care. With the rise of staff leaving the health service, pressure is being put on minsters to persuade EU staff to remain in their rolls to protect workforce numbers.
10,000 staff from the EU have already left the health service, and this is a problem that could get worse. NHS managers have urgently requested that the status of the 60,000 EU staff working in the healthcare sector is confirmed as soon as possible. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers said that “We don’t have enough staff with the right skills and we’re asking far too much of our existing staff.”
This follows the recent report which showed that the number of EU nurses coming to Britain has fallen by 89 per cent in a year, while the number of UK graduates leaving the profession fell by nine per cent. Brexit is now being considered a massive barrier when it comes to recruiting new staff.
According to Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, this is a “fundamental failure in planning”. He also claims that “We don’t have enough staff with the right skills and we’re asking far too much of our existing staff,” he said. NHS trust leaders are telling us there are no quick fixes to improve the supply of UK-trained staff, and the outlook for international recruitment is uncertain.”
Hospital executives are concerned that staff are already under immense strain, and Brexit could make it even harder to retain workers. One executive said that “The current lack of progress in the Brexit negotiations is creating unhelpful uncertainty in an already challenging workforce environment. I have worked in the NHS for 45 years. In that time I have never seen so many staff work under so much pressure for such long periods of time”
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The NHS has over 12,700 more doctors and 10,600 more nurses on wards since May 2010 — but we know that we need more staff.” The NHS is making plans to train and recruit new doctors and nurses, but will it be enough to replace the crucial workers it will lose through Britain leaving the EU? It’s clear that protecting the future of EU nationals is a top priority if the NHS wants to protect the service and care it provides to its patients.
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