A bad Brexit deal will jeopardise patient care, say the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), who have written to nine party leaders calling for a referendum on the final Brexit deal.
In the letter, the RCN claim that there is an ‘immediate risk’ to patient care as a poorly handled exit from the EU might exacerbate current problems, such as workforce shortages.
‘As the debate across our membership has made clear, the implications of Brexit for the health and care system will be numerous,’ said Maria Trewen, chair of the RCN Council.
‘There are risks that, if not credibly addressed, may damage population health, as well as severely impact on our members’ ability to provide safe and effective care for their patients in both the short and the long term.’
Membership of the European Medicines Agency, access to medicines, and participation in clinical trials might be at risk from the Brexit deal.
The letter goes on to emphasise various potential threats to nursing from an inadequate Brexit deal, such as the dilution of fair employment practices and worker’s rights, as well as to cross-border exchange of knowledge, research and skills.
Earlier this month, the RCN reacted to no-deal Brexit advice by criticising the lack of guarantees made to protect the rights of EU workers.
There has been an 87% decrease in the number of nurses joining from the EU since the Brexit decision, and with roughly 36,000 vacancies in the NHS, continued recruitment from the EU must be encouraged and ensured.