No deal Brexit advice was released today for the healthcare sector but without guarantees made to protect the rights of EU workers, patients will be put at risk, says nursing union.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have warned that while nursing numbers across the UK continue to plummet, losing ‘valued EU colleagues would put further pressures on our overstretched and understaffed health services’.
‘EU nurses will be left worried and uncertain about their future following this failure to guarantee settled status if we crash out of the EU,’ said Donna Kinnair, acting chief executive of the RCN.
‘We now call on the Home Office to affirm the commitment made by Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, that the rights of EU nationals already in the UK will not be affected by a no-deal Brexit.’
There is a current shortage of approximately 36,000 unfilled nursing posts in the NHS and changes to student funding have left the profession in a recruitment crisis.
‘Patients cannot be left high and dry without the medicines and the nurses they need. If the Government sleepwalks into ‘no-deal’ it must protect patient interests and guarantee safe and effective care in law,’ continued Ms Kinnair.
Since the Brexit decision in 2016, there has been an 87% decrease in the number of nurses joining from the EU and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have since made efforts to recruit more from non-EU countries – in July, changes were made to resit requirements for exams non-EU health professionals must take to make them more flexible.
The RCN have stated that recruiting from the EU must be made as easy as possible as the UK ‘fails’ to train enough health professionals of its own.