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Some EU doctors 'not applying for posts in the UK' since Brexit vote

Published 05/07/2016

Many NHS workers are from EU backgrounds
Many NHS workers are from EU backgrounds

Britain's decision to leave the EU is already having an impact on the recruitment of European staff, experts have said.

Anecdotal evidence suggests health workers who had signed up to come and work in Britain have decided not to come following the referendum.

And uncertainty surrounding what will happen to EU nationals in the UK after Article 50 is invoked could also have an impact on the workforce, health experts have predicted.

Current figures show that one in 20 NHS staff in England are from EU countries, including 9% of doctors and 7% of nurses.

When asked if the NHS is struggling to recruit European staff following the referendum, Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "Anecdotally yes. There is a lot of chatter about around EU doctors that feel uncomfortable continuing to be here and are not applying for posts in the UK.

"In relation the medical workforce this is on top of a history of increasing number of trainee doctors applying to go and work in other countries, particularly in Australia. So this adds to the concern that there has been over the last six months."

Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at the NHS Providers organisation, added: "We have heard of emails from our member organisations asking us if any other trusts have been in the situation of having people they had specifically recruited now deciding not to come."

Stephen Dalton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added: "On the EU workforce that is already here, there is concern amongst that workforce as to what will happen after Article 50 is triggered and what happens two years on. People are planning their futures and thinking about where they want to be in two years' time and three years' time and they won't wait to find out.

"There was an immediate move by Jeremy Hunt to issue a letter talking about how valued (EU staff) are and that was good but we need to move on from just telling people that they are valued to giving them some security that they will have some legal safety to remain in this country. Otherwise what we could see is a lot of people who are already here who will actually leave."

The comments come as fresh analysis on the impact Brexit will have on NHS finances is released.

The new report from the Health Foundation states that the economic fallout from leaving the EU poses serious risks to NHS finances.

The authors have estimated that the NHS budget in England could be £2.8 billion lower than currently planned in 2019/20, if the Government aims to balance the books overall.

If the UK is able to join the European Economic Area the NHS funding shortfall could be at £19 billion by 2030/31. If it cannot, the shortfall will potentially be as high as £28 billion, the authors said.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said: "It is widely anticipated that leaving the EU will lead to lower economic growth, and when the economy sneezes, the NHS catches a cold.

"The NHS is already half way through its most austere decade ever, with finances in a truly dire state - it cannot afford to face another hit.

"Eighteen months after the NHS five year forward view there has never been a more urgent need for a clear plan to deliver the savings it set out and ensure the service has the staff it needs to sustain high quality care."

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