NHS chief supports staying in the EU

Worry that Brexit could prompt European staff to leave NHS

European nurses, doctors and care workers could quit the health service in the wake of Brexit due to uncertainty over work visas, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has warned.

Speaking ahead of the EU referendum on June 23, Mr Stevens said some of the estimated 130,000 NHS staff from the EU could 'up sticks and leave' due to uncertainty over 'work permits, migration regimes and passports'.

‘The NHS actually has benefited enormously from EU nurses and doctors who we successfully recruit and who help staff our hospital and nursing homes,' Mr Stevens told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

‘We have got about 130,000 European Union nurses, doctors and care workers in the NHS and in care homes and we will surely miss the effect, the impact, the benefit they bring were some of them to choose to leave.’

Leave campaigners insist coming out of the EU would free up funds for the NHS and ease pressure on services by curbing migration.

But Mr Stevens said warnings by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney of a possible recession in the event of Brexit must be taken seriously.

'It would be very dangerous if at precisely the moment the NHS is going to need extra funding, actually the economy goes into a tailspin and that funding is not there,’ added Mr Stevens.

Unison and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), which estimates 33,000 nurses and midwives from other EU countries work in the UK, support remaining in the EU.

The RCN maintains a neutral stance, but recently published a guide called The Impact of the European Union on Nursing in the UK which explains how the EU has changed UK nursing to date.

Further information:

The Impact of the European Union on Nursing in the UK

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.