NHS Staffing and Brexit

Thank you for contacting me about the effects of leaving the EU on the NHS.

Ensuring that we have a well-staffed NHS, caring for patients seven days a week, is of utmost importance and the staff in the NHS provide our country with an invaluable service.  I would like to pay tribute to the many EU nationals who work in the NHS and I commend the care and compassion they provide. The Government is confident that all EU nationals working in Britain will be able to remain in the country with the same rights that they enjoy today, so that they can continue playing such a vital role, not only in the NHS, but as our friends, family and fellow citizens as well.

However, I recognise that leaving the EU may impact staffing in the NHS. I am confident that the Prime Minister and Ministerial colleagues will secure the best trading and partnership arrangements for our future relationship with the EU and can assure you that the Government is committed to increasing the number of staff in the NHS, both in the short-term and for the future.

We have been embarking on one of the largest recruitment drives in the NHS - today, there are over 14,000 more nurses and over 11,000 more doctors in NHS wards than in 2010, as well as a further 52,000 nurses in training. Furthermore, the Government recently announced its long term plans for NHS staffing. Instead of relying on clinical staff from abroad, I agree with the Secretary of State for Health that we must increase the numbers of home-grown NHS staff.  I fully support, therefore, plans to increase nursing, midwifery and allied health pre-registration training positions by up to 10,000 by 2020, and broaden routes into nursing through the expansion of Nursing Associates and the introduction of Nurse Degree Apprenticeships.  These will open up careers in nursing to people from all backgrounds.  There will also be an extra 1,500 training places for doctors.

Finally, the NHS is using targeted incentives to improve recruitment throughout the country. We must acknowledge that for a long time, there have been many parts of the country which have attracted fewer doctors and nurses, and indeed many other professionals. I believe that NHS England's Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme is a sensible move which will ensure that all parts of the country receive the talented doctors and nurses they deserve.

I believe that these efforts will significantly support NHS staffing, and safeguard the NHS for the future.