The result of the Brexit referendum has had great effects on both the UK and the EU, with one of the most affected areas being the NHS. Despite often being considered one of Britain’s most famous institutions, up to 35% of health professionals come from outside of the UK. The EU provides over 55,000 of the NHS’s 1.2 million staff, with migrant workers being a huge part of the service’s success.
However, despite this huge number of employees, the NHS is suffering from increasing staff shortages, with many experts claiming that the referendum result will make the issue worse.
In spite of the problems that come with these shortages, a 2015 Freedom of Information request found that last year alone, hospitals in the UK denied thousands of EU nurses the right to work in the NHS, with over 2,341 refusals on record.
The release of this information paired with the results of Brexit could mean the end of the NHS’s ability to rely on EU workers, with the NHS Confederation warning that doctors and nurses from Europe may be wary of accepting UK job offers in the future.
This, among other factors, has led to a shortage of around 16,000 health professionals being predicted within the next five years – a deficit surely not helped by the Leave campaign’s strong emphasis on immigration and its resulting deterrence of EU workers.
Before the EU referendum, the Leave campaign promised £350 million a week to the NHS, but this was quickly changed following their win, leaving many people who voted to leave the EU feeling betrayed by the campaign strategy.
In his bid to become the next prime minister, Michael Gove is now promising the NHS an extra £100 million a week by the year 2020, but with his plans to end free movement within the EU, this may not be enough to attract EU health professionals to continue working in the UK.