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Hospitals look to recruit further afield as EU staff quit NHS

PUBLISHED: 17:48 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:44 27 November 2019

More than 11,600 NHS staff from the EU have left the NHS since the Brexit referendum. Picture: Getty

More than 11,600 NHS staff from the EU have left the NHS since the Brexit referendum. Picture: Getty

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Norfolk hospitals are attracting nursing staff from as far afield as the Philippines and India to fill posts as national figures show more than 11,600 NHS staff from the EU have left the health service since the Brexit referendum.

New nusing staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King’s Lynn including non-EU overseas recruits from the Philippines and India. Picture: QEHNew nusing staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King’s Lynn including non-EU overseas recruits from the Philippines and India. Picture: QEH

Some 65,000 of NHS England's staff are from the European Union, including almost one in 10 doctors. But while government research found that the percentage of EU doctors and nurses grew between 2009 and 2016, the number has fallen since the referendum.

More than 3,252 NHS staff from the EU left 50 of the 135 NHS Hospital Trusts in England between January and October this year, including 1,116 nurses, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats through Freedom of Information requests.

In Norfolk the Brexit exodus has not been quite as stark.

Some 65,000 of NHS England’s staff are from the European Union, including almost one in 10 doctors. Picture: GettySome 65,000 of NHS England’s staff are from the European Union, including almost one in 10 doctors. Picture: Getty

The number of EU nationals who have left the James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston in 2019, up to November, and ahead of the supposed Brexit date of October 31, was 18. This included seven from medical and dental and five nursing and midwifery staff with the other in administrative, clinical services and other roles.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said its turnover of registered nurses per month is one of the lowest in the East of England and only about five per cent of its nurses are from the EU.

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A spokesman said: "To retain our existing workforce, we have been promoting the Government's EU Settlement Scheme which gives the right to remain in the UK.

"We actively promote the trust to our local graduates from universities, at national job events and through targeted recruitment campaigns to other EU and non-EU countries.

"We are proud to have a diverse workforce from different backgrounds and attract staff from across the community, the region and from overseas."

Nurse vacancy rates at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King's Lynn are at an all time low, following a successful recruitment campaign including an international recruitment drive for non-EU overseas health workers.

Some 140 nurses arrived at the QEH this year from the Philippines and India with 25 starting in November alone.

At the end of September, there were 170 unfilled full-time nursing positions at the QEH. Since then, 119 of these posts have been filled, leaving just 51 positions still to be filled - equating to a record low vacancy rate for the hospital of just 5.2pc.

Earlier this year the hospital said the rate of departures of EU staff had remained broadly stable over the Brexit period. It said 58 EU staff left in 2018, compared to 52 in 2015.

QEH Chief Nurse, Libby McManus, said: "There are many factors behind our recruitment success, including our focus on recruiting internationally. As well as reducing our vacancy rate, we are also working hard on retaining our existing nursing staff within the QEH."

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