Feared post-Brexit exodus of nurses halted by virus


ears that Brexit would spark an exodus of European staff from the NHS in London have not materialised, a health chief has said.

Martin Machray, the capital’s joint chief nurse, said that the Covid pandemic appeared to have caused many staff to rethink their plans and had led to unskilled workers seeking jobs in the health service.

He told a City Hall hearing into the impact of Brexit there had been “very little immediate impact” since the end of the transition period.  

The only problem had been a delay in two medical devices getting stuck at customs, because of poor paperwork from the supplier.

“We prepared well,” he said. “We planned for the worst and the worst has not materialised.”

He said it was an “enormous relief” that systems such as the “right to reside” had been put in place to retain foreign nationals such as nurses from Spain, Italy and Portugal. Mr Machray said: “I think people are still trying to work out ‘What will I do at the end of the second wave?’

“That applies to the EU nationals as much as British nationals deciding what they want to do in future. I don’t think it’s as easy to say we will see a leaking of staff away from the NHS.

“People will see the NHS as a place to come to work, as much as [thinking] ‘I’ve had enough of it and I need to find something else because it’s been a hard 12 months’.”

Meanwhile, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said he could not say whether he supported a £500 bonus for NHS key workers, which is being rolled out in February in Scotland.

He told LBC: “I certainly support efforts to reward them and thank them. I’ve got immense respect and admiration for the work that they have done.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to award NHS staff and social care workers north of the border a one-off tax-free bonus of £500 as a “Thank You” payment for their hard work during the pandemic.


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