"Within England’s NHS services, EU nationals make up almost 10 per cent of doctors, more than 7 per cent of nurses and 5 per cent of scientific, therapeutic and technical staff. Almost 10,000 EU workers had already left the NHS when NHS Digital released its 2017 data last autumn.
“If none of the EU citizens were [in my hospital], I can say without any exaggeration: you could absolutely close tomorrow”, Dr Peter Bauer, 47, a consultant anaesthetist in a Brighton hospital who has worked in the NHS since 1999"
There are 12,000 non-UK EU health and social care staff in Scotland and 60,000 such NHS staff in England.
In 2015, the UK had a net gain of 3,000 nurses from the EU, but by 2017 this had dropped to a net loss of more than 1,000 nurses per year. Given the NHS has 100,000 staff vacancies and the number of UK trained nurses are declining by 1000 a year, it’s hard to see how Brexit will help solve the manpower crisis and reduce the high agency costs for staff. The bill for agency nurses alone in 2017 was £1.46 billion.
Stockpiling of vital medicines such as insulin, 99% of which is manufactured abroad, may not be sufficient. Medical radio isotopes which are needed for 700,000 diagnostic tests a year can’t be stockpiled, and none of them are manufactured here.
But at least medicine tries to offer informed consent, allows patients to change their minds as the facts change, and places no obligation on doctors to perform any procedure a patient is demanding if the weight of evidence suggests it would not be in his or her best interests. So it should be with Brexit. Our politicians need to step up.
Devon council boss warns over Brexit nursing care shortages