Number of EU employees joining NHS in Devon falls following Brexit

Picture: Getty

Picture: Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fewer EU nationals are choosing to join the NHS in Devon since the EU referendum.

Healthcare workers’ union Unison has warned that the loss of European employees would leave the NHS in ‘a state of near collapse’.

Between December 2014 and November 2015, the equivalent of 223 EU citizens started full-time jobs at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Digital data shows.

But over the same period in 2017-18, after the UK voted to leave, it only hired 75 EU citizens - a fall of 66 per cent.

Meanwhile, the number of EU nationals leaving the trust remains consistent with 197 leaving their jobs over the 12 months, compared to 207 three years before.

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Across England, fewer EU nationals are joining the NHS and more are leaving. The number of EU citizens starting full-time jobs has fallen by 26 per cent and the number leaving work has risen from 6,700 to 9,600.

The number of UK workers has now risen, in total 109,000 full-time UK workers joined the NHS in 2017-18, compared with 103,000 three years earlier.

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When looking at the national picture, for the whole of the UK, the number of EU nationals joining the NHS has in fact risen. Between December 2017 and November 2018, 957 full-time UK employees joined the trust, 171 more than in 2014-15.

A trust spokesperson said: “We greatly value all our EU staff and the important contribution they make to safe, high-quality services and we will continue to support them at this time so they can plan for the future.

“A range of factors have affected recruitment and retention of staff originally from the EU since 2017 but we have addressed this issue successfully and maintained safe staffing levels thanks to positive recruitment campaigns, including some in non-EU countries.”

Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health, said: “Departing EU nationals mean serious problems for the NHS.

“Brexit is making it harder for hospitals to recruit, and causing workers to question staying here.

“Without the many health employees from across Europe, the NHS would be in a state of near collapse, and their skills and expertise have helped limit the effects of the huge staffing gaps.

“Further staff losses would mean even more stress for an already overstretched workforce, and would have a devastating impact on patient care.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said it was encouraging NHS workers from the EU to apply for settled status.

A spokesperson said: “EU workers play a vital role across the health and social care system, and we want them to stay here long after the UK leaves the EU.

“Our priority is to make sure that high standards are maintained across the healthcare system, and that patients continue to receive the high-quality care they deserve.”

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