Would the NHS collapse if European staff were forced to leave after Brexit?

No one yet knows what the impact of Brexit will be on EU migrants who are living and working in the UK. However, if new rules mean they have to leave, it is likely to have a massive negative impact on the NHS.


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Massive workforce

According to Migrant Watch UK, one in seven immigrants living in the UK are employed in the health and social work sector.

The NHS is already struggling with staff shortages and is unlikely to be able to cope if foreign staff were forced to leave en masse. The Royal College of Nursing has already warned that thousands of nurses are at risk because of Brexit and is calling for what it calls a ‘sensible strategy’ which recognises the ‘critical contribution’ of overseas nurses.

A lack of local GPs also means that many doctors come over from Europe to work in the UK. There are slightly less than 10,000 hospital doctors from the UK, accounting for around nine per cent of the total.

Forward planning

While there are also calls for more homegrown staff to be educated and recruited, it is unlikely that there will be enough in place to cope if EU workers move and patients’ care will suffer. Both EU staff and NHS trusts are facing huge uncertainty over their futures, leading to fears that they won’t be able to provide the necessary care. NHS staff shortages are already causing problems such as the part closure of A&E departments at hospitals in Lancashire and Lincolnshire.

Trusts will need to plan carefully for any eventuality and look at the way in which they recruit staff. They may decide to use a clinical staffing agency such as http://www.gandlscientific.com/ to ensure they have the right staff with the necessary experience to ensure continuity of care.

In October, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Conservative party conference that he would stop the NHS relying on overseas doctors after Britain leaves the EU and announced plans for up to 15,000 extra training places each year in UK medical schools. Although he said that the government wants EU nationals who are already in the UK to be able to stay, the focus will now be on encouraging graduates from the UK to study medicine.