Since the EU referendum last year, the number of nurses from the European Union applying to work in the United Kingdom has fallen by 96%. Statistics collated by the Nursing & Midwifery Council show that the number of nurse applicants from the EU fell from 1,304 in July 2016 to 46 in April 2017.
Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation reported a current shortage of 30,000 nurses in England.
The Royal College of Nurses have said that the government’s refusal to guarantee the status of EU nationals living in the UK has further exacerbated shortages in NHS nursing staff.
The British Medical Association council chair, Dr Mark Porter said: “Following the EU referendum, thousands of European Economic Area nationals working in the NHS and wider health and social care system have been left feeling uncertain as to whether they and their families will have the right to live and work here.”
Figures collated by NHS Digital show a total of 17,197 EU healthcare staff, including nurses, left their posts in 2016, compared with 13,321 in 2015 and 11,222 in 2014.
For several years the health service has relied on international workers to help fill NHS vacancies as the NHS has struggled to train and retain sufficient British nationals. Presently, as Britain embarks on Brexit negotiations, a major concern is that shortages in clinical workforce will push the NHS to a critical point.
The Royal College of Nursing reported that one in nine posts is now vacant. Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary said “We rely on the contributions of EU staff and this drop in numbers could have severe consequences for patients and their families… Our nursing workforce is in a state of crisis. Across our health service, from A&E to elderly care, this puts patients at serious risk.”
With continuous rising demands in healthcare and critical shortages in the clinical workforce, patients are being placed under a greater risk of not receiving the adequate and timely care that they are entitled to.
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