‘You do a brilliant job for your patients’
In his first significant intervention since Friday’s referendum result, Jeremy Hunt has sought to reassure the UK’s 110,000 health and care staff from other EU countries that they are welcome. He said on Monday: “You do a brilliant job for your patients, you are a crucial part of our NHS, and as a country we value you.”
Mr Hunt, who backed the Remain side in the EU referendum campaign, also told HSJ: “Ten per cent of our doctors, and more than 20,000 NHS nurses, are from another EU country, and we simply could not do without their contribution.”
NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh and NHS Employers boss Danny Mortimer made similar appeals on Friday morning. Sir Bruce warned: “If you are a European doctor or nurse you might not feel too welcome at the moment”, and the health secretary’s comments come after reports at the weekend that EU workers in the NHS have expressed concern about their future and there have been isolated stories of staff facing racist abuse.
The theme is picked up by HSJ editor Alastair McLellan in a leader published on Monday: “One trend beginning to emerge as early as this weekend was that of existing or potential NHS staff with European backgrounds deciding the UK is no longer the place for them. The further this spreads, the more it will intensify the burgeoning NHS staffing crisis…
“Our thoughts should be with those who have left homes elsewhere in Europe and are now working in the NHS, especially those working in areas that delivered high votes for Brexit. They will need the support of NHS leaders both national and local as they continue to care for British patients.”
HSJ has backed up these words with action, by creating a new HSJ Award. It will seek to recognise and celebrate the work of any staff member who left their home in another EU country and now works in the NHS.
The editor said: “It is unusual for us to single out any one group like this – but with verbal, physical and social media attacks on EU immigrants already on the rise and many considering leaving the country – we felt it was important to make this clear declaration of support.”
The above was originally published in the HSJ newsletter. For the original, please visit http://www.hsj.co.uk/.