Jeremy Hunt says Brexit may have had ‘marginal impact’ on NHS staffing


Increased pressure on the NHS has led to long waits for some patients

John Johnson

5 minute read

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said Brexit may have had some impact on staffing following a new report revealing major shortages in the NHS.

In a new report from the health and social care select committee, chaired by Hunt, a cross-party group of MPs warned that patients were at risk from the ‘biggest workforce crisis’ in the history of the NHS with thousands of unfilled positions.

Figures from NHS England showing vacancies for 8,016 doctors and almost 40,000 nurses may significantly underestimate the scale of the problem, with new analysis from the Nuffield Trust claiming the figures could be as high as 12,000, according to the report. vacancies for doctors and 50,000 for nurses.

“We are now facing the biggest manpower crisis in history in the NHS and in social care, with no idea how many more doctors, nurses and other professionals we actually need. need,” said Hunt, the former health secretary who now chairs the Commons committee. , wrote in a statement accompanying the report.

He added that the “persistent understaffing” in health services posed “a serious risk to the safety of staff and patients, both in routine and emergency care. It also costs more as patients present later with a more serious disease”.

Speaking to LBC on Monday, Hunt said Brexit may have had a “marginal impact” on staffing due to “uncertainty” following the UK’s exit from the bloc, meaning many members of the staff from EU countries have left the health services.

“There may have been some NHS staff who went back to Portugal or Poland or somewhere else. I think it was more likely the pandemic, people going home before this lockdown happened,” did he declare.

“But the truth is that all over the world now, according to the World Health Organization, there is a shortage of 2 million doctors, 15 million nurses, and so we are not the only country facing to these shortages. And the long-term solution is to increase the number we train.”

Hunt, who served as health secretary from 2012 to 2018, admitted he had to ‘accept some responsibility’ for the health service’s current problems, but insisted he had ‘created six new schools medicine and increased the number of doctors we trained by 25 percent.”

“We need a much more robust system, which does not rely on decisions being made by individual health secretaries or chancellors, but which gives the NHS the assurance that whatever the government, whatever the health secretary, we will always train enough doctors and nurses for the future,” he told Sky News.

As the Tory leadership race enters its final weeks, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will face questions over how they would support the NHS if they become the next Prime Minister, with Sunak already warning that the lists of Growing expectation and pressures on staff could lead the health service to “break” without additional help.

“Already a lot of people are using money they can’t really afford to go private. It’s backdoor privatization and it’s wrong,” he said. The temperature on Saturday as he promised what he would do as prime minister.

“People shouldn’t have to make a choice with a gun to their head.

“If we don’t put in place a radically different approach immediately, the NHS will come under unsustainable pressure and break apart.”

The comments stand in stark contrast to those made by Boris Johnson last week in a written parliamentary statement detailing the ‘delivery’ while in office. The outgoing Prime Minister claimed the NHS was on a “more secure footing”, saying more doctors and around 30,000 new nurses had been recruited since March 2019.

MPs on the committee said NHS staff knew there was no “silver bullet” to solve the crisis. “This must be a top priority for the new prime minister,” the report insists.

Patricia Marquis, director of the Royal College of Nursing for England, said: “This persistent understaffing in all care settings poses a serious risk to the safety of staff and patients should prompt ministers to act.

“On pay, the committee was very clear that it is unacceptable that some NHS nurses are struggling to feed their families, pay their rent and get to work.

“Their recommendation that nurses should be given a pay rise in line with the cost of living crisis should prompt the government to rethink the latest pay deal which follows a decade of real pay cuts that will force people to leave the profession even more.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are increasing the health and social care workforce, with more than 4,000 doctors and 9,600 more nurses than last year, and more than 1,400 more general practitioners compared to March 2019.”

They added: “We have instructed NHS England to develop a long-term workforce plan to recruit and support NHS staff as they provide safe, high-quality care to patients and help to eliminate Covid backlog.”

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