How dependent is Queen’s Hospital on staff from the European Union?
PUBLISHED: 13:00 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:16 06 November 2018
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More than one in 10 midwives working at Queen’s Hospital’s NHS Trust are EU nationals, figures show.
Data compiled by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) from NHS Digital data revealed that out of the 6,393 members of staff working at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust (BHRUT), 534 members of staff are from the EU, an equivalent of 8.4 per cent of the work force.
The BIJ also looked at a breakdown of the staff roles, for example 13.2pc of nurses and health visitors working at BHRUT are from the EU.
Queen’s Hospital in Rom Valley Way, has a large maternity ward with more than 8,000 babies delivered a year, and according to the data, 14.1pc of midwives at BHRUT are from the EU.
With Brexit on the horizon, these figures might affect future recruitment from EU countries and staff retention.
Mark Dayan, policy and public affairs analyst at the health think tank the Nuffield Trust, said that for more rural trusts in the east of England, recruitment can be difficult.
“In London, the vacancy rate suggests that it is not the case to assume that ‘London will be alright’,” he said.
“In that context, the reliance on EU workers looks like a liability.”
Jason Seez, director of strategy and infrastructure at BHRUT, said: “We are working on the understanding from government that our valued workforce of staff from across the European Union will have all their rights to live and work here maintained.
“The centre of our workforce strategy is to continue to ‘grow our own’ teams from our local community, and we have low numbers of EU staff compared with some other trusts, so we are confident the direct impacts will be minimal. However there might be broader issues across London which could impact us, if all the trusts are in competition for a smaller workforce.
“We continue to explore all the potential impacts from Brexit and to make plans accordingly.”
Nationally, around 5pc of NHS staff are EU nationals and at eight NHS trusts they make up more than 20pc of doctors or nurses.
“We are not concerned about the origins of staff, only that they provide the best possible levels of care for their patients, and are supported and nurtured to do that by BHRUT,” said Ian Buckmaster, executive director at Healthwatch Havering.
“So far as we are aware, Brexit should not impact on this - the government has given assurance legally that, whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiation, EU citizens already resident and working in the UK will be entitled to continue to do so.
“On that basis, we do not expect staffing levels at BHRUT to be adversely affected by Brexit.”
Havering was recognised as one of London’s biggest leave voters, with 69.7pc of the borough voting to leave and only 30.3pc voting to stay out of 139,086 votes.
Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford, said: “It is ludicrous to suggest Brexit will have an impact on staff numbers at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust.
“I am delighted EU nationals currently living here will be allowed to remain, it is right that they are afforded that certainty.
“I look forward to an immigration policy which no longer discriminates against immigrants from outside of the EU. Brexit creates a wonderful opportunity to recruit the best from around the world, regardless of the continent they were born in.”
Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and Rainham, added: “I think we can assume that Brexit will have an initial impact on staff across many industries and public services.
“However it would be inaccurate to suggest that the 534 members of staff from the EU currently working in our local NHS services are going to be struck off at 11.01pm on March 29, 2019.
“Whilst I have little faith in the government to deliver a plan that works, I have faith that the NHS can effectively manage its staff, and that the opposition will effectively lobby government to ensure that the final transition period has as little negative impact as possible.”
In response to the data collated by the BIJ, a Department for Health spokesman said the number of EU nationals working in the NHS had increased since the referendum.
He said the “NHS is preparing for all situations”, but stressed that EU staff in the NHS “will be among the first to be able to secure their settled status”.
For more information visit The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.