Unite calls for “generous” pay rise for NHS workers to stem staffing crisis being made worse by Brexit

NHS workers must be given a pay rise to help stem a retention and recruitment crisis being made worse by Brexit, Unite has said.

The number of EU nurses and midwives coming to the UK to work has plummeted by 89 per cent since the referendum vote, while the number leaving the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)’s register has shot up by 67 per cent.

The latest figures published today (November 2) from the NMC’s register – which comprise nurses and midwives who have met the organisation’s standards and are qualified to practice in the UK – show that the problem is getting worse with each successive year.

Between October 2015 and September 2016, a year after the EU referendum, 2,435 EU nurses and midwives left the NMC register, while in the last year, this number has skyrocketed to 4,067.

Nurses and midwives from the EU leaving in droves is happening against a backdrop of nurses from the UK leaving as well.

In fact, for the first time ever, more people are leaving the NMC register than are joining it, the Council highlighted.

And it’s not just nurses and midwives taking part in the mass exodus of the NHS with no one to replace them as demand for services skyrockets – more than 86,000 NHS posts were vacant earlier this year.

Unite head of health Sarah Carpenter said nurses from the EU are being put off by Brexit uncertainty, which is exacerbating staffing shortages.

Carpenter said the government must take urgent action to make the NHS a more attractive place to work for both EU and UK nationals.

She said: “The disturbing NMC findings are further evidence, if more were needed, that the NHS needs a massive cash injection, with a large tranche earmarked for a generous pay rise for staff.

“The NHS has been buffeted by austerity-driven cuts and services are at breaking point – since 2010 the majority of the NHS workforce has seen their pay packets eroded by at least 14 per cent in real terms.”