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Prime minister urged to guarantee future of EU workers in NHS

RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick has demanded EU staff working in the NHS are given reassurances about their future as the nation prepares for Brexit
Brexit

RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick has demanded EU staff working in the NHS are given reassurances about their future as the nation prepares for Brexit

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called on the prime minister to inform EU staff that they will continue to be able to work in the NHS.

Chief executive Cathy Warwick said the health service desperately needs the EU midwives it currently employs.

In her opening speech to the RCM annual conference in Harrogate, Professor Warwick said: Midwives have, for a generation now, done the best they can, but its hard to run a consistently world-class service on a shoestring budget.

And there is one big threat on the horizon that could quickly make things worse.

RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick has demanded EU staff working in the NHS are given reassurances about their future as the nation prepares for Brexit


The RCM has called on the government to be upfront with EU staff working in the NHS about their future. 

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called on the prime minister to inform EU staff that they will continue to be able to work in the NHS.

Chief executive Cathy Warwick said the health service ‘desperately needs’ the EU midwives it currently employs.

In her opening speech to the RCM annual conference in Harrogate, Professor Warwick said: ‘Midwives have, for a generation now, done the best they can, but it’s hard to run a consistently world-class service on a shoestring budget.

‘And there is one big threat on the horizon that could quickly make things worse. Here in England, we have well over 1,000 NHS midwives who come from elsewhere in the EU. They are the people our maternity services desperately need. We are, frankly, lucky to have them and we should be saying thank you.

More staff shortages 

‘If the UK government decides they cannot stay, England would go from being 3,500 midwives short to almost 5,000. This is a cheap way to toy with the lives of people who go to work every day to provide care and support for pregnant women and new mothers.

‘It is time – today – for the prime minister to overrule the likes of (secretary of state for international trade) Liam Fox and tell EU nationals working in our NHS that they can stay.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt was asked about the issue when he appeared before the Health Select Committee on Tuesday.

Former Labour health minister Ben Bradshaw told Mr Hunt: ‘One very easy thing you can do to reassure the NHS is guarantee that the thousands of NHS employees who are EU citizens will have a right to carry on doing their jobs here.’

Mr Hunt replied: ‘As you know these things are all part of the negotiations that lie ahead, but I have tried hard at every opportunity to reassure the brilliant EU staff who currently work in the NHS – around 50,000 staff in total, 10,000 doctors, 18,000 nurses – and to be very clear that we want them to continue working in the NHS when we leave the EU and that we are confident that we will be able to negotiate that and we think they do a fantastic job.’

Mr Hunt told MPs he is not a standing member of the Brexit sub-committee but said he would be involved in discussions about NHS staff.

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