Labour MEPs: Brexit uncertainty and Tory incompetence behind dismal NHS Staff Survey results

Uncertainty over the citizenship rights of NHS staff, the extraordinarily high numbers of EU workers who have left the health service since the referendum, and the general incompetence of the Tory government are to blame for the dismal results revealed by the NHS Staff Survey, Labour MEPs warned.

Just three in ten staff (31.04 per cent) feel there are enough staff in their organisation for them to perform their role properly; only two thirds of staff responding to the survey (66.78%) felt able to deliver the care they aspire to deliver; 68.75% of staff are unhappy about their pay; and almost three fifths (58.34%) of staff are working additional unpaid hours.

UK Shadow Secretary of State for Health Jonathan Ashworth MP addressed MEPs today on Labour’s approach to the NHS and Brexit, saying “the NHS would not function effectively if it was not for the thousands of European nationals who work in it”, and that Labour would “guarantee the rights and status of existing EEA nationals”.

Rory Palmer MEP, Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on health, said:

“Today’s NHS Staff Survey exposes the reality behind the Brexiters’ claims that leaving the EU would result in more money, more resources and more staff for the NHS. The uncertain and incompetent road to Brexit the Tory government is taking us on has resulted in our underpaid and overworked NHS staff feeling their organisation is understaffed and they are unable to deliver the highest levels of care.

“The UK government’s treatment of EU citizens as bargaining chips is a disgrace, and has led to uncertainty and anxiety and resulted in EU staff leaving the NHS, as has the government’s health policy more widely, from the pay cap and cuts to development funds to the general ongoing never-ending disaster of austerity.

“Ten thousand EU employees have already quit. The number of nurses and midwives coming to work in Britain from Europe fell by 89 per cent in the year after the referendum. The number of doctors coming to the UK from the EU fell nine per cent in 2017. Forty five per cent of EEA doctors are considering leaving the UK and moving to another country. The number of qualified Europeans leaving the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register has risen 67%. There are 100,000 vacancies across the NHS.

“As Jonathan Ashworth said, our NHS is absolutely reliant on EU staff, and if they left the NHS, the workforce crisis outlined above would become a catastrophe. Labour would guarantee the rights and status of existing EEA nationals – it’s beyond time for the government to do the same.”