Rise in the numbers of EU workers leaving the NHS

European workers are leaving the NHS
European workers are leaving the NHS

European workers are leaving the NHS at a higher rate since the Brexit vote, new data has revealed.

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The major survey of all NHS health trusts in England and Wales – carried out by the BBC’s data unit – showed a clear trend of increasing numbers of EU workers leaving over the last three years.

At the same time, the majority of trusts have fewer EU staff members joining year on year since 2014.

Blackpool conforms to the national picture, with fewer EU staff joining and more leaving.

In 2014/15, 4.6 per cent of EU staff left, this rose to 6.3 per cent in 2015/16 and 7.8 per cent in 2016/17. At the same time, the number of new EU staff has fallen, with 11.2 per cent of new starters being from the EU in 2014/15, falling to 9.4 per cent in 2015/16 and 3.9 per cent in 2016/17.

NHS headcount in England

NHS headcount in England

A spokesman for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are not particularly seeing a ‘Brexit effect’ in terms of recruitment at our Trust.

“Nursing recruitment remains particularly challenging for us, in line with other Trusts.

“Over the last two years we have recruited nurses from the EU and further afield to support our nursing workforce and continue to do so.

“The majority of those recruited remain, though some have gone back home or to work elsewhere for a variety of reasons.

NHS staff leaving and joining in England

NHS staff leaving and joining in England

“Our focus on recruiting and retaining our staff will continue to be a priority.”

This is generally in line with the national picture, where the majority of NHS trusts surveyed showed an overall reduction in the number of members of staff – from doctors to nurses, healthcare assistants and support staff – from the EU.

But other trusts in Lancashireare bucking the trend – with both the county’s hospital trust and mental healthcare trust retaining a steady level of staff from EU countries.

A higher number of EU staff have been leaving Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust trust over three years, but there have also been higher numbers joining.

In 2014/15, 1.3 per cent of the trust’s EU staff left, which rose to 1.5 per cent in 2015/16 and two per cent in 2016/17.

But at the same time, the number of new EU staff joining also rose.

In 2014/15, 1.7 per cent of the new staff were from the EU, which rose to 2.6 per cent in 2015/16 and 4.2 per cent in 2016/17.

A spokesman for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “As an NHS organisation, Lancashire Care values its staff and recognises that recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce is key to providing a quality service to our patients.

“To help the Trust continue to be an employer of choice, we have a number of initiatives which include having an environment that supports flexible and healthy working practices, supported by opportunities for staff development.

“This includes additional leave for lengthy service, job share initiatives, part time working hours, further training and development, and secondments.

We also try to ensure the work environment in the Trust is one in which staff feel happy and supported, and regularly collect feedback which is then used to make positive changes.

We also have a number of schemes to reward, recognise and celebrate the hard work and dedication of our staff, which is a huge boost for morale.”

Nationally, just over 12 per cent of all staff in the EU are foreign nationals, with five per cent being from countries within the EU.

A spokesman for the Nursing and Midwifery Council added: “In July, we released data that showed that since March 2016 our register has started to decline.

The data showed that there has been a decrease in nurses and midwives joining our register and increase in those leaving, with the widening gap between leavers and joiners most prominent among UK nurses and midwives.

While our data showed that the number of EU nurses and midwives joining our register has reduced this is only part of a wider picture.

We published this data to support the government and others responsible for workforce planning.”