Brexit may have already hit the NHS’ ability to recruit and retain staff from the EU for Yorkshire hospitals, experts heard today.
Healthcare leaders quoted in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) said staff from the EU were considering their position following the referendum vote last week.
Alex Scott, a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust in West Yorkshire, said he was hearing locally that there was already a negative effect on recruitment.
He told The BMJ: “Our regional major trauma and transplant centre has already (before Brexit) had to shut beds and cancel liver transplants because of staffing crises.
“I now hear rumours from hospital managers in West Yorkshire that our EU recruiting drive has been sabotaged by the referendum result and we will not get the staff we recruited because of very reasonable fears for the future. British patients will lose out.”
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, told the publication it was vital EU nationals are not deterred from working in the UK.
“Anecdotal indications are that this is already happening,” he said.
Pnt Laloe, a consultant anaesthetist at Calderdale and Huddersfield and who holds dual French and US nationality, said: “When I first heard the EU referendum result, it felt like a kick in the teeth.
“Within my department, including the junior doctors and the permanent staff, EU citizens represent 15% of the medical workforce. Our services are already stressed: staffing two full emergency departments just six kilometres apart is unsustainable. The Brexit vote might just have accelerated events.”
The Royal College of Radiologists said on June 27 it had already been contacted by EU clinical radiologists and oncologists concerned about their employment status.
Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP and former GP who joined the Remain campaign in the weeks leading up to the referendum, said: “We have 130,000 people working in the NHS who qualified elsewhere in the EU. The number one priority is to make sure they still feel welcome and that those who are in the process of being recruited are given a reassuring message.”