Last week, senior NHS bosses were ordered to repeat Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s claim that a no-deal Brexit must be carried out in October if necessary.
As reported in The Independent, a controversial government briefing stated that all communications sent by NHS England must be “aligned to this script”. Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth MP calls this a “gagging order” on NHS managers.
The NHS Confederation have previously outlined several risks to a no-deal Brexit, namely delays in accessing medicine, suspension of pharmaceutical research and the potential for UK pensioners living in EU countries to have their right to receive local healthcare revoked.
If the latter happens, the NHS could end up swamped with an extra 260,000 expat pensioners after Brexit.
Staff shortages are one of the most alarming features of a no-deal Brexit. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research predict that by 2021, there may be a shortfall of around 5-10,000 nurses.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council have stated that since the Brexit vote in 2016, there has been a 90 per cent fall in EU nurses and midwives applying to join the national register.
UNISON represents 450,000 people employed working in health, and a further 350,000 in social care. If this includes you, and you’re worried about the impact a no-deal Brexit will have on your job, have your say here.
Chair of UNISON healthcare executive Roz Norman says: “A no-deal Brexit will be the first nail in the coffin of our NHS. We have the best health service in the world, but a no-deal Brexit will have a significant impact on patient care.
“Most of our medicines come from Europe. I know that some hospitals are already stockpiling, and some hospitals are already running out of medicines.
“This includes chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients. If cancer patients don’t get those treatments on a regular basis, we could be looking at a lot more deaths.”
“Even if we do get the medication, and we haven’t got the staff to deliver the services, it’ll be the patients that suffer”
Norman has worked at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust for 38 years and is the staff-side chair there. She adds: “I’m so proud to work here. We’re deemed as one of the happiest trusts to work for in the country. It’s a real melting pot with overseas nurses and medical staff from many different countries. We’ll lose that culture”
“We had a Spanish nurse here who’s gone back to Madrid for some training. She planned to come back to the UK once she’d finished the training, but now it doesn’t look like she’ll get back. The NHS will collapse without overseas nurses”