Best for Britain issues stark warning from Scottish midwives as new figures reveal 5,000 EU staff exodus since Article 50 triggered
Best for Britain has released an open letter today, supported by the Royal College of Midwives CEO, MPs, and local midwives in Scotland and across the UK, to raise awareness of Brexit’s threat to UK maternity services.
The letter is launched on the day it’s revealed 5,000 EU-trained nurses and midwives have left the UK since the triggering of Article 50 in March 2017, with many of those identifying Brexit as the trigger.
Following a peak of 38,024 in March 2017, the number of EU-trained nurses and midwives has reduced to 33,035 this year – a 13 per cent drop.
The figures reveal that the number of people from the EEA on the NMC register decreased by 5.9 percent between March 2018 and March 2019.
Elsewhere in the survey findings, 51 percent of those nurses and midwives who trained within the EU, left the register, and responded to the survey, stated Brexit as a reason for encouraging them to consider working outside the UK.
Overall, the total number of nurses and midwives leaving the register with an address in Scotland was 2,929 over the past 12 months, while the number joining the register for the first time with an address in Scotland was 2,388 – not including people who are already registered moving to Scotland, or people returning to the register after a break from practising.
Royal College of Midwives CEO and General Secretary, Gill Walton said:
“EU midwives provide NHS care to tens of thousands of women every year and they make a vital contribution to the provision of care – we’re lucky to have them.
“Unfortunately over the last year just thirty-three midwives arrived from elsewhere in the EU to work as midwives here in the UK and we used to count them in their hundreds.
“UK maternity services are already stretched and short-staffed, but Brexit threatens to make things even worse.
“It’s my belief, and the firm belief of the Royal College of Midwives, that it should be we, the people, who make that decision about the future of our country, and not just a handful of politicians. All of us deserve a final say because this matters so much to the country, the NHS and our maternity services.”
Hayley Dansey, midwife, NHS Grampian said:
“Brexit is tearing our hospitals apart. We rely on the incredible work of EU staff who bring a depth of experience, insight and a diverse skill set which has become integral to our learning and practice as midwives.
“EU workers help us maintain the highest standard of care in units that are already overstretched and short-staffed. But with so many EU nationals leaving our hospitals, there is only so much we can take. Brexit compromising patients safety and putting people at risk.
“We can’t stand on the sidelines. If we didn’t fight Brexit, we would be failing generations of women and their families by being unable to continue providing the exceptional care we strive so hard to achieve.”
Jeanne Tarrant, former midwife and RCM officer, Edinburgh said:
“Any form of Brexit would reduce the number of EU midwives and maternity support workers, increasing the risks to new mothers and babies.
“Midwives provide a vital service to our country but our maternity wards are currently suffering from a national workforce shortage. The only deal that protects our world-class maternity services is the one we currently have with the EU. That’s why I back giving the public a final say on Brexit.”
Ged Killen, MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, said:
“Brexit threatens to create a perfect storm which could see hospitals critically understaffed, as NHS workers from European countries leave in droves.
“These NHS staff are the people who care for us, our families and friends when we are sick, and they are having their lives turned upside down by unnecessary Brexit uncertainty.
“With the impact that Brexit is having on the NHS becoming clear, and the deadlock in Westminster seemingly going nowhere, it is time to ask the public to determine the outcome and choose whether we leave with the Prime Minister’s deal or remain in the EU.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
If you use any of the quotes, please mention the Best for Britain campaign
Link to midwife pictures here.