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NHS depends on EU nurses - Nuffield Trust report

The NHS depends on nurses from the European Union (EU) to prevent the serious problem of under-staffing from getting even worse, according to a new report.

The NHS depends on nurses from the European Union (EU) to prevent the serious problem of under-staffing from getting even worse, according to a new report

The Nuffield Trust report calls for a commitment either to continue to allow substantial nurse migration after Brexit, or to step up domestic training, even if this proves more difficult and more expensive than current policies anticipate.

Meanwhile, social care faces a shortfall of as many as 70,000 workers by 2025-26 if net migration from the EU is halted after Brexit, the health charity added.

Cost effects

The report also warns the NHS could face a bill of 1 billion every year if retired British expats who

The NHS depends on nurses from the European Union (EU) to prevent the serious problem of under-staffing from getting even worse, according to a new report


The NHS could face a bill of £1 billion every year
Picture: PA Wire

The Nuffield Trust report calls for a commitment either to continue to allow substantial nurse migration after Brexit, or to step up domestic training, even if this proves more difficult and more expensive than current policies anticipate.

Meanwhile, social care faces a shortfall of as many as 70,000 workers by 2025-26 if net migration from the EU is halted after Brexit, the health charity added.

Cost effects

The report also warns the NHS could face a bill of £1 billion every year if retired British expats who are currently cared for in Europe need to receive their treatment in Britain.

If all the British pensioners who currently receive health care in other countries through EU agreements had to return, caring for them would require the NHS to spend an extra £1 billion a year.

The Nuffield Trust said this is twice the amount that is currently spent for them to receive their care abroad.

Under the EU reciprocal S1 scheme, British pensioners have the right to go to any other EU member state and receive the same health care rights as the local population.

The agreement currently protects around 190,000 British pensioners – costing the Department of Health around £500 million a year.

Bed demand

Meanwhile, if the NHS needed to care for those who currently receive care abroad, it would need a significantly higher number of hospital beds – the equivalent to two new hospitals, the authors said.

Brexit negotiators should try to secure a deal which would mean that expats still receive care in the country they reside in, they added.

Report author and Nuffield Trust policy and public affairs analyst Mark Dayan said: 'The NHS and social care were already under pressure from tight funding settlements and growing staffing problems well before the EU referendum last year.

'But if we handle it badly, leaving the EU could make these problems even worse, given the potential impact on both the strength of the UK economy and the supply of overseas staff to both health and social care services.

'It is possible that extra funds could be found for the NHS from any cancellation of Britain's EU membership fees – but whether or not these benefits will outweigh the significant staffing and financial costs Brexit may impose on already stretched services remains to be seen.

'That depends largely on the NHS being recognised as a significant priority as we enter some of the most important negotiations in Britain's history.'


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