The Liberal Democrats have called for an "NHS Passport" to secure the rights of the 59,000 EU citizens working in the NHS, as figures have revealed a sharp rise in nurses from the EU quitting the health service.
Over 2,700 EU nurses left the NHS in 2016, a 68% increase compared to two years ago. Separate figures from the Royal College of Nursing have shown the number of EU nationals registering as nurses in England has dropped by 92%, while there are 24,000 nurse jobs unfilled in the NHS.
The Liberal Democrats have called for an immediate guaranteed right to live and work in the UK for all EU citizens working in NHS and care services, in a motion passed by members at the party's Spring Conference in York today. The motion also called for the urgent reinstatement of the nursing bursary to address the huge shortage of nurses in the NHS.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb commented:
"These shocking figures show you can't have a hard Brexit and a strong NHS.
"It is vital that we reassure NHS staff and social care workers from the EU that they remain welcome and valued in the UK following Brexit.
"These people save lives, yet this Conservative government is treating them with careless disregard.
"NHS and care services would struggle to cope if significant numbers of doctors, nurses and NHS staff from the EU left.
"Theresa May must do the decent thing and ensure the right to remain for all EU citizens, with an immediate guarantee for those working in health and social care."
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