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Figures reveal exodus of EU NHS staff in East Sussex

December 2, 2019 7:44 AM
By Liberal Democrats

Em Jones

Brexit is making the staffing crisis at East Sussex Healthcare Trust even worse, the Liberal Democrats have warned.

Figures published by the Liberal Democrats reveal that 84 EU staff working at East Sussex Healthcare Trust have already left the health service this year, including 27 nurses and midwives.

In the three years since the Brexit vote, 460 NHS staff from the EU have left the local trust.

Staff departures from East Sussex Healthcare Trust are part of a worrying national trend: over 3,250 NHS staff from the EU have left the health service so far this year, including 1,116 nurses. The data, based on responses to Freedom of Information requests across 50 NHS hospital trusts, reveals that:
  • Over 11,600 NHS staff from the EU have left the health service in the three years since the Brexit vote, including 4,783 nurses.
  • Over 3,252 NHS staff from the EU have left the health service so far this year (Jan - Oct 2019), including 1,116 nurses.
The Liberal Democrats have warned that shortages of NHS staff will get even worse under Conservative plans that would see EU nationals charged a "nurse tax" worth thousands of pounds to come and work for the NHS. Nurses and other health professionals from the EU do not currently pay any fees to come and work for the NHS.

However, under Conservative proposals, visa fees and the NHS surcharge would be extended to EU workers, meaning an EU nurse would have to pay £1,089 to work in the NHS for the first year and £3,589 for five years.

Former Hollington GP and the Liberal Democrat campaigner for Wishing Tree, Dr Emlyn Jones (photo)said:

"These shocking figures reveal the damage Brexit has already done to the NHS in East Sussex and it's set to get worse under the Tories.

"The Conservatives' obsession with Brexit has already cost our NHS dearly. Now the Tories want to clobber hardworking NHS staff with a nurse tax that will cost them thousands to come and work in the NHS. It's no wonder that NHS staff from the EU in East Sussex are leaving their posts. Unfortunately, it's patient care that will suffer as a result."

Parliamentary candidate Nick Perry added:
"Only the Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit to protect our NHS. We will make clear to staff from the EU that they are valued, tackle the staffing crisis, and invest an extra £35 billion in health and social care."

Photo of Dr Jones.

Notes to Editors

Figures on NHS staff from the EU leaving the health service were obtained through Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Liberal Democrats. Data was provided by 50 out of 135 NHS Hospital Trusts in England:
  • Over 3252 NHS staff from the EU have left the health service so far this year (Jan - Oct 2019), including 1116 nurses.
  • Some of the worst affected NHS trusts so far in 2019 include London North West (362 EU leavers), Oxford University Hospitals (304 EU leavers) and University Hospitals Bristol (203 EU leavers).
  • 11,600 NHS staff from the EU have left the health service in the three full years since the referendum (since start of 2017), including 4783 nurses.
  • The number of EU leavers increased by 23% from 3,504 in 2015 to 4335 in 2017. The number of EU NHS staff leaving levelled slightly to 4013 in 2018, still up 14% on 2015.
  • The latest figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have shown that the number of new nurses coming from the EU to work in the UK dropped by 87% from 6,382 in 2016/17 to 805 in 2017/18.
Nurse tax
  • The Health Immigration surcharge is currently £400, which is for every year of a visa - 5-year visa equals £2000 for Health surcharge
  • The one-off Immigration visa fee is currently £928 - this would be halved under Conservative proposals for an NHS visa scheme to £464.
  • For EU nurses, and other health professionals, who do not currently pay the health surcharge or visa fees, the Conservatives scheme to extend the visa fees to EU workers in addition to the new health surcharge, would mean an EU nurse will now have to pay £1,089 to work in the NHS for the first year and £3,589 for five years.
Liberal Democrat plans on the NHS

The Liberal Democrats have set out a comprehensive plan to protect NHS by:
  • Stopping Brexit to ensure we retain freedom of movement and continued mutual recognition of qualifications.
  • Raising £7 billion a year additional revenue which will be ring-fenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services. This revenue will be generated from a 1p rise on the basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax (this revenue will be neither levied nor spent in Scotland. This funding would be focused on relieving the crisis in social care, tackling urgent workforce shortages, and investing in mental health and prevention services. This represents the most efficient and effective way of spending these extra resources - ensuring they will have the greatest impact on the quality of care patients receive.
  • Using £10 billion of capital funding to make the necessary investments in equipment, hospitals, community, ambulance and mental health services buildings, to bring them into the 21st Century. NHS leaders recently warned that the Conservative government's lack of investment in capital funding for the NHS is putting patient safety at risk, undermine plans to transform the NHS. (NHS Providers, August 2019).