Atlantis Medical News

England tries to hold on to EU Nursing staff

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04 JUL 2018

Simon Stevens, head of England’s NHS, has asked hospital trusts to interact with the EU nurses, in a bid to motivate them to stay on in the country, post Brexit.

Mr Stevens confirmed that written requests had been made to all hospitals, to reach out to employees from the European Union, to reassure those who are worried about their futures within the health services.  

The letter sent to the trusts, serves to remind them that a clear process has been set, by which people can apply to stay on in the country. Mr Stevens expressed his hope that they will.

There are currently approximately 62 000 EU nationals working within England’s Health Services, which translates into 5.6% of the total workforce. The referendum result appears to have had a dramatic impact on the number of applications by EU nurses, seeking work in the NHS.  

Data taken from the Nursing and Midwifery Council, in the third quarter of 2017, showed a 67% increase in the number of EU nurses leaving. It also showed a drop of 89% in new appointments. Mr Stevens said that, in addition to the drive to keep EU nationals, it is also vitally important that the UK make every effort to produce more British born doctors and nurses. There has been a lot of focus on doctors, but is becoming clear there needs to be a shift in emphasis; towards nurses and other disciplines.

“We’ve got five new medical schools that are coming online over the next several years,” Stevens said. “That’s going to mean a 25% increase in the number of British doctors. We need to do the same with nursing and other disciplines.”

He suggested that more practice nurses need to be appointed, to fill the gaps, caused by difficulties in retaining GPs, as a result of the pressures of general practice. He said there is a need to redesign the way GP services work, rather than simply expanding them. Some of these could include adding more practice nurses and pharmacists, and introducing new technology.

Mr Stevens said that the Department of Health and Social Care was now actively planning for different Brexit scenarios – including no deal, which is in direct contrast to his comments last October, when he told MPs that he had not been asked by the government to consider a no deal outcome. In the event of no deal, making sure medicine supplies were secured was “top of the list”, said Stevens
The health department, along with other government departments, is undertaking to secure medicine supply and equipment.

Extensive work is being done with the pharmaceutical industry, to ensure a smooth transition, should there be a no-deal outcome. The no-deal is not ideal for the NHS, but planning is taking place to allow for the possibility.

Stevens denied the possibility that the new £20bn funding injection, could be eaten up by higher social care demands.

Stevens said the PM has emphasised that the settlement for social care will not add extra pressure to the NHS. It has also become apparent, that more focus is needed on mental health. The NHS’s new long-term plan would need to “spell out very clearly” how to ensure that mental health issues are given as much attention as physical health issues. He warned that the NHS could not do this in isolation; social media, advertising and reality TV shows, need to be more aware of their role in causing anxiety, particularly among impressionable young people.

“Social media and advertising has got to look very carefully at the kinds of impacts it’s having” Simon Stevens



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