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NHS could be up to 42,000 nurses short after Brexit, projection claims

The NHS could suffer a nursing shortage of up to 42,000 just six years after Brexit, a leaked government projection claims.
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The NHS could suffer a nursing shortage of up to 42,000 just six years after Brexit, a leaked government projection claims.

The figure was predicted by civil servants to reflect a worst-case scenario, where EU and non-EU nurses stop coming into the UK in 2019.

The Department of Health (DH) forecasts a nursing staff shortage of 26,000 to 42,000 by 2025-26, the Health Service Journal reported.

'The analysis indicates that there is a severe risk of undersupply if immigration rules change and international inflows stop,' the journal quoted.

The numbers were presented to ministers last month, the journal said.

'Unsafe service'

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said losing such a high number of healthcare staff would make the

The NHS could suffer a nursing shortage of up to 42,000 just six years after Brexit, a leaked government projection claims.


A government projection has revealed a potential nursing shortage of up to 42,000 in
the six years after Brexit. Picture: iStock

The figure was predicted by civil servants to reflect a worst-case scenario, where EU and non-EU nurses stop coming into the UK in 2019.

The Department of Health (DH) forecasts a nursing staff shortage of 26,000 to 42,000 by 2025-26, the Health Service Journal reported.

'The analysis indicates that there is a severe risk of undersupply if immigration rules change and international inflows stop,' the journal quoted. 

The numbers were presented to ministers last month, the journal said.

'Unsafe service'

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said losing such a high number of healthcare staff would make the NHS unsafe.

She said: 'Decisions would have to be made about services we would be able to provide. You wouldn't want to keep running an unsafe service that was so short of nurses.'

Of the estimates, she said: 'We warned of this years ago and we were told we were scaremongering.

'This is a large problem that is coming at us quickly and we need to move fast. What we are not seeing is any real action.'

'NHS guarantee'

A DH spokesperson said: 'As you would expect, the department and others are focused on workforce planning to ensure the NHS has the staff it needs to continue to provide good care.

'The secretary of state has always made clear that EU nationals who work in the NHS make a valuable contribution, and this will be taken into account during Brexit negotiations.'

Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth MP said: 'When parliament returns, the Secretary of State must update the House on his response to this independent civil service analysis, and finally outline his plans for the NHS staffing and Brexit.

'It's time for an 'NHS guarantee' for these workers, ensuring their rights and offering those who care for our sick and elderly the certainty they deserve.'


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