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West Suffolk ‘at risk’ if Brexit hits nurse numbers

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds ANL-150319-095542001
West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds ANL-150319-095542001

West Suffolk Hospital is listed as one of the 20 NHS trusts most at risk of the impact of Brexit and an aging population.

The Institute for Employment Studies, an independent centre for research, published the list this week in a report on Brexit’s impact on nursing.

The list is based on the trusts who have above average percentages of both EU nurses and projected rise in over 85 s.

West Suffolk Hospital confirmed the IES figure of 11 per cent of its nurses coming from the EU. The national figure is 4.5 per cent, while the highest is 20.3 at Royal Brompton and Harefield Trust.

But the IES stresses this must be seen against the impact of more over 85s and the extra demand they bring.

So while West Suffolk is about the middle of the EU nurses percentages it is at the upper end of the over-85s rise with a growth rate of 45.1 per cent in the next 10 years.

IES stresses that the survey is intended to get people talking while there is still time to address potential problems.

It warns: “Whatever form Brexit eventually takes, it could well lead to a reduced supply of labour from the EU.

“Given the current uncertainty around the status of EU workers, many EU nurses may voluntarily choose not to take up positions in the UK, while those already working here could make plans to return home if they feel unwelcome or no longer see a future in the UK.”

The IES report says there is already a shortage of nurses, the current staff are aging and it takes three to four years to train and register new nurses, so action needs to be considered now.

Jan Bloomfield, executive director workforce and communications at West Suffolk Hospital, said: “We are aware of the possible outcomes Brexit may have on our workforce but continue to look at alternative recruitment solutions to attract more people to nursing, including the ‘come back to nursing’ programme and our partnership with the University of Suffolk.

“We have a number of nurses from the European Economic Area and they do superb work here at the hospital and long may that continue.

“However, it’s not an easy process and we are finding that we sometimes struggle to complete the registration of some due to the complexity of the International English Language Test they need to pass.”

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