Britain is facing a shortage of 20,000 nursing staff as Brexit uncertainty has caused a sharp fall in recruits from EU countries, the Financial Times reports. The number of EU nurses registering in the UK dropped 87 percent compared to the previous year, according to consultancy Christie & Co.
The warning over a decline in nursing numbers comes as Britain prepares for winter, when hospital admissions tend to rise. Last winter, hundreds of thousands of patients were forced to wait in corridors and ambulances as hospitals struggled to find space for patients.
In case of a no-deal Brexit, the NHS has been looking towards other places to find new nurses, including through a three-year partnership with the Jamaican government and offering more visas to nurses from various Asian countries.
The number of nurses from Spain, Italy and Romania declined by more than 90 percent in the last year. A third of the 27,800 new nurse registrations came from the EU in 2015/16 but this fell to just 3 per cent of 23,300 in 2017/18.
UK health secretary Matt Hancock said that discussions are taking place on whether there should be a special visa scheme for healthcare workers after Brexit. He also added that the efficiency of Britain’s training schemes need to be improved so that the system no longer has to rely as much on foreign staff.