Whatever form Brexit eventually takes, it could well lead to a reduced supply of nursing labour from the European Union. So warn the authors of a new report for the Institute of Employment Studies looking at the key risks to the UK workforce beyond Brexit.
Whatever your position on Britain’s relationship with the EU, this report presents a challenging picture that cannot be ignored. The think tank found that the increasing reliance on nurses from the European Economic Area and growing numbers of over-85s could hit the NHS hard. The IES identified a number of NHS trusts that face a double whammy of rapid population growth and above-average employment of nurses from the EEA.
It singled out the following trusts as most vulnerable:
• Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
• Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust
• Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Luton and Dunstable University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
• Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust
• West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
• Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
• Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust
• Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
• Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust
• Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust
• Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
• Whittington Hospital NHS Trust
• Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Bedford Hospital NHS Trust
• Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust
• Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
• Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust
• Weston Area Health NHS Trust
• London North West Healthcare NHS Trust
The authors conclude that the severe interruption to the future supply of nurses that Brexit may represent will require “a radical re-think of the way we plan, recruit, train and deploy nurses”.
I would urge trusts to consider how new technology dramatically reduces demand on local health services. Simple home monitoring of long-term health conditions could save the NHS millions of mundane appointments and emergency admissions every year. This would liberate nurses from routine and administrative functions and allow them to concentrate on caring for those patients in greatest need.