LONDON March 19: Record numbers of nurses who are originally from EU countries are quitting their jobs in the NHS, Metro News reports.
Critics have warned that Theresa May is fanning the flames of the NHS staffing crisis by refusing to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK post-Brexit.
Almost 2,700 EU nurses handed in their resignation letters last year, compared to 1,600 in 2014 – a monumental jump of 68% – according to freedom of information requests submitted by the Lib Dems.
Some 80 trusts out of 136 responded to the request, showing that, in total, 6,433 EU nationals quit the NHS in 2016 – up from 5,135 in 2014.
At the same time, the Royal College of Nursing has said there’s been a 92% drop in the number of EU citizens working as nurses since the EU referendum.
In the month after the referendum last June, there were 1,261 EU nurses working in the NHS. In December, this figure had fallen to just 96.
The RCN added that now, around 24,000 nursing positions in the NHS have been left unfilled.
The shocking figures have led to calls for the government to set up an ‘NHS passport’, which would be offered to the 59,000 EU citizens who work in public sector healthcare.
Despite repeated calls to guarantee the rights of EU citizens, the government has refused, claiming that doing so would lose the UK ‘negotiating capital’ with the EU during Brexit talks.
This comes as fewer than one in 10 NHS nurses said they felt able to always provide safe levels of patient care.
According to the poll of more than 3,000 nurses, 83% felt staffing levels in the NHS were unsafe.
The research, carried out by the Sunday Mirror and Nursing Standard magazine, also found that 81% thought levels of care were worse than five years ago.
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, told the Sunday Mirror: ‘This is a sombre
snapshot of the state of the Health Service, direct from the staff keeping it afloat.
‘As pressures rise to new and extreme heights, the Government is digging a deep, dark hole for our NHS.’