‘We need a people’s vote to ensure deal works for nurses and patients’

Brexit challenges pose an immediate risk to safe patient care, RCN warns

 Brexit challenges pose an immediate risk to safe patient care, RCN warns

The RCN has added its voice to calls for a people's vote on the Brexit deal. Picture: Alamy

Brexit poses an ‘immediate risk’ to safe patient care, according to the RCN.

RCN council chair Maria Trewern is due to give the warning at a British Medical Association (BMA) Brexit event in London today, and to reiterate the college’s call for a people’s vote on the final deal for leaving the EU.

‘Government has made little progress on regulations’

Highlighting the challenges Brexit poses for the nursing workforce, Ms Trewern is expected to say the UK is ‘stumbling towards Brexit’ and ‘patients must not be left high and dry without the medicines and the nurses they need’.

‘Not only are EU nurses a vital part of our workforce, they are part of our local communities. The Home Office has finally recognised how valuable they are to the nursing profession.

‘However, the government has made little progress on maintaining the vital regulations and agreements we have with the EU. This lack of agreement on Brexit is putting the provision of safe and effective healthcare, as well as collective efforts to improve public health, at risk.

‘It’s clear that Brexit will dramatically affect the nursing workforce and patient care. We are calling for a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal to make sure it works for nursing staff and their patients.’

EU nurse numbers warning

Since the vote to leave the EU in 2016, there has been a huge drop in the number of nurses from the EU joining the nursing register, the RCN has warned.

Recent Nursing and Midwifery Council figures show that the numbers continue to fall, it adds. In the year to September 2018, 888 EU nurses joined the register, while 3,560 left.

The RCN has welcomed the Home Office’s guarantee that EU nationals already living in the UK will have the right to remain and work, even if there is a no-deal Brexit.

But the college has raised concerns over whether current EU education and professional regulatory frameworks for nursing will be preserved, as well as future medical supply arrangements and the UK’s relationship with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Ms Trewern will be joined by BMA international committee chair Terry John and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust workforce director Ben Morrin at the BMA panel event Navigating Brexit: what next for the NHS?

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