Slump in EU nurses coming to work in London is ‘putting patients at risk’

London has the highest nurse vacancy rate in England’s NHS

London has the highest nurse vacancy rate in England’s NHS

Picture: John Houlihan

Almost 700 fewer European nurses have come to work in London in the two years since the Brexit referendum, analysis by the RCN reveals. 

The college said the situation was 'completely avoidable' and said that the 42% drop in nurses coming to work in London from mainland Europe has put safe staffing at risk.

The college's analysis of NHS data shows:

RCN London regional director Jude Diggins said: 'These figures confirm what our members have been telling us – that the government’s failure to immediately clarify their right to stay, left them feeling anxious and concerned for their future. 

Jude Diggins, RCN regional director

‘With the government’s official announcement on the settled status scheme not coming until a whole two years after the referendum result, many have felt they had little choice but to vote with their feet.

'This was all completely avoidable – without EU nursing staff, the health service would be unable to provide safe and effective care.'

Immigration rules

The government this week published its white paper on immigration rules for the UK post-Brexit.

It suggests a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for skilled migrants seeking five-year visas, a figure criticised by the RCN for its potential to shut the door on international nurses – because nurse salaries start at £23,000.

From January 2019, overseas nursing staff will have to pay a doubled immigration health surcharge after MPs recently voted to raise the fee.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: 'We have guaranteed the rights of all EU citizens living in the UK and as part of the commitment we offered health and social care staff the opportunity to be among the first to secure their status here.

'Staff from the EU are always welcome in the NHS and over 4,700 have joined the health service since June 2016.’

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