Controls on immigration? 96 per cent drop in number of EU nurses coming to Britain post-Brexit

NHS facing staffing crisis as international recruitment slumps

Just 46 nurses arrived in Britain from the EU in April of this year, feeding fears that the NHS will face a staffing crisis post-Brexit.

The figures obtained by the Health Foundation show a 96 per cent drop in admissions following the vote to leave the EU. In April 2016, nearly 1,200 European nurses arrived to work in the UK. Although arrivals reached a high in July of last year, with 1,304 nurses registering, by September that number had slumped to 344 and has continued to fall since.

‘The recruitment and retention of nurses is one of the biggest challenges facing health and social care, with a shortage of 30,000 nurses in England alone,’ commented Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation.

While the NHS has been able to resolve staffing shortages through international retention, the effects of Brexit along with policies designed to bring down net immigration are taking their toll.

Charlesworth continued:

“The drop in EU nurses registering to work in the UK could not be more stark – just 46 registered to work in the UK in April. Without EU nurses it will be even harder for the NHS and other employers to find the staff they need to provide safe patient care. The findings should be a wake-up call to politicians and health service leaders.”

However, she also clarified that the problem is about more than simply international recruitment, saying:

Clearly action is needed to offset any further loss of EU nursing staff in the near future. But the overall shortage of 30,000 nurses is not a shortage caused by the Brexit vote. The chronic shortage of nurses is the result of  years of short-term planning and cuts to training places. A sustainable, long-term approach to workforce planning is desperately needed.”

Since the referendum, there have been calls for any new immigration controls to include exemptions for NHS staff and workers in other key sectors.

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