Brexit prompts exodus of EU employees from Kent hospitals
More than 400 staff from the EU have quit their jobs in hospitals in Kent in the run-up to and after the Brexit vote, figures show.
And there are 670 unfilled nurses jobs at hospitals run by three trusts, according to data on vacancy rates provided to the KM Group.
Health chiefs and nursing leaders say Brexit has made recruitment even harder, largely because of the uncertainty surrounding EU nationals’ status.
The figures disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has seen the highest exodus of employees, with 134 EU nationals quitting in 2016-17 before Brexit and 127 since the referendum last June. The figures cover not just nursing staff but clinicians and administrative staff.
The trust said it was finalising plans to recruit from outside the EU to fill vacancies.
“The trust remains mindful of recruitment challenges. It has a comprehensive strategy that includes local, national and inter- national recruitment.”
The East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said it valued its diverse workforce and continued to work hard “locally, nationally and internationally” to fill vacancies.
Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust chief executive Susan Acott said Brexit was already making it harder to employ nurses from the Continent.
“Brexit has given some of our European and international staff a sense of uncertainty and anxiety about the future,” she said.
“We aren’t able to recruit enough registered nurses locally and until the future becomes clearer, we anticipate that it will become harder to recruit staff from abroad.”
The reliance on overseas staff in the NHS is underlined by separate figures showing that together Kent’s three trusts still have more than 1,100 on their payroll.