NHS faces falling off Brexit cliff-edge

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that the NHS risks falling over a cliff-edge in migration as a new report highlights the devastating impact of uncertainty on the NHS.

The Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on Brexit has criticised the delays to the Immigration White Paper and warns of serious problems for immigration service delivery as a result of a lack of decisions - creating ‘anxiety for EU citizens in the UK’.

As the RCN’s chief executive Janet Davies pointed out, in some hospitals ‘one in five NHS workers have EU passports’, meaning that the anxiety is being most strongly felt in the health service. She says that simply extending the current immigration system will not address the problem as ‘prioritising visas based on salary levels fails to recognise the benefits of international nurses to our society and economy’.

The organisation argues that the government must assure the tens of thousands of EU nurses and carers working across the UK that they have the right to stay, and stress how ‘desperately the NHS and social care system needs them’. Over 60,000 EU citizens work in England’s NHS while the NHS already has at least 40,000 too few nurses with not enough home grown nurses being trained to fill the gaps.

Davies said: “If there is a Brexit cliff-edge in migration, it will be the NHS going over it. The number of nurses coming from EU countries has plummeted in the last 18 months and, rather than redoubling her efforts to attract more, Theresa May told them they have even fewer rights if they arrive during the transition period.”

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