THE number of EU workers joining the NHS in Lancashire has fallen since Brexit, figures have revealed.

Data shows just seven people have joined East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) since the decision to leave the EU, which compares to 28 in 2014/15 and 29 in 2015/16.

The figures are even more stark for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which has seen the number of workers joining it drop from 93 in 2014/15, to 50 in 2015/16 and then 29 in 2016/17.

Although, the number of EU workers joining Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, has remained stagnant with 13 in 2014/15 and 2016/17, although it went up slightly to 19 in 2015/16.


It follows analysis in a report 'Brexit and the NHS' from the BBC shared data unit which looked at the share of people from the EU who are leaving and joining the NHS nationally.

Overall, it found the proportion of EU staff joining the NHS has fallen from 15,247 in 2014/15 to 6,925 this year.

Estephanie Dunn, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing in the north west warned there is a 'national trend' in the reduction of nurses joining and leaving the profession in the UK due to 'uncertainties around their status post-Brexit.

"In parallel to this, trusts are facing unprecedented issues regarding recruitment because of wider factors such as the tough new language tests, which are scuppering opportunities and preventing international nurses from taking up roles in the UK," she said.

"With over 40,000 nursing vacancies in the UK, we cannot afford to lose the potential to recruit and retain EU nurses."

Russ McLean, East Lancashire's patient champion, described the figures as 'tragic'.

He said: "These figures are a direct result of the uncertainty to the status of EU nationals caused by the vote to leave the EU and over the government's own dithering on what their status will be.

"It is exacerbating an already grave recruitment and staff situation with a shortage of nurses and doctors across the board."

The data also shows that EU nationals make up a larger share of staff leaving NHS jobs after the referendum than they did before it, although the overall total of leavers is lower, with 5,482 in 2016/17 compared to 7,535 in 2014/15.

This trend is also reflected in Lancashire, with ELHT having 12 EU leavers this year compared to 22 in 2014/15, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals having 16 leavers in 2016/17 compared to 40 in 2014/15, while Lancashire Care had an increase in the number of leavers from 9 in 2014/15 to 10 in 2016/17.

Christine Pearson, director of nursing for ELHT said the trust 'actively recruits' nurses locally and internationally to ensure they maintain safe staffing levels on all its wards.

She said: “We see a great benefit in the wealth of experience and the diversity that our staff from overseas bring to the Trust and to our patients.

"The nurses we employ undergo numerous assessments, including English language and are registered with the nursing and midwifery council.

"This ensures that they can provide safe, personal and effective care for our patients and we aim to continue to do this.”

Karen Swindley, workforce director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals said they have a broad and comprehensive recruitment and retention strategy, which includes an international recruitment programme.

She said: “We have a long-standing relationship with a number of universities in Italy, and Italian nurses, continue to express interest in working in our hospitals. We also recruit staff from outside the EU."

Lancashire Care said it 'values' its staff and recognises that recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce is key to providing a quality services to its patients.

But a department for health spokesperson said there are 3,193 more EU nationals working in the NHS than at the time of the referendum.

The spokesperson added: "We have been absolutely clear that these staff play a vital role in the NHS and want to see their excellent work continue long after the UK leaves the EU."

“However, we recognise the NHS also needs more home-grown staff, so we’ll be training an extra 1,500 doctors and 10,000 nurses, midwives and allied health professionals a year by 2020 to ensure the NHS has the workforce it needs both now and in the future."