Luciana: EU staff critical to our NHS

Lib Dem Health Spokesperson Luciana Berger has spoken out about how Brexit would harm our NHS, emphasising how reliant we are on EU doctors and nurses. Analysis done by the Labour Party highlights that NHS staff work a million hours of unpaid overtime every week.

That doesn’t surprise me. When my husband was seriously ill three years ago, in the 51 nights he was in hospital, only once did I see one member of staff actually leave at the end of their shift. And the situation has got much worse since then as we lose thousands of EU nurses every year.

Luciana criticised Labour’s approach to Brexit:

A key reason NHS staff are working overtime is because of the serious shortages in the number of doctors and nurses working in the NHS. Part of that shortage is due to the net loss of 5,000 EU nurses in the last two years alone.

Only yesterday, Labour failed yet again to confirm their position on freedom of movement. With the NHS reliant on 10,000 EU doctors and 20,000 EU nurses, Labour’s support for Brexit is baffling as it will be so damaging for our NHS and hardworking staff.

In the past week we have learnt about the Conservative plan to impose a Nurse Tax on any new EU health professional coming to treat NHS patients. The stakes could not be higher. Labour and the Conservatives must stop being so irresponsible with our NHS.

The Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit to protect our NHS. We will build a brighter future by investing an extra £35 billion in our NHS by adding a penny on income tax. In addition we will implement a national recruitment strategy to ensure we never again suffer shortages of nurses, doctors and other health professionals.

If Labour are bad, the Tories are terrible. They would charge nurses who come to this country to use the NHS they work for. This would cost their families thousands of pounds.

Our Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine slammed this “Nurse Tax” last week, saying:

The Conservatives have effectively created a new Nurse Tax. It is an insult to the thousands of people who dedicate their lives coming to work for our health service from the EU.

The NHS currently relies on 10,000 doctors and 20,000 nurses from elsewhere in the EU, and we’ve already lost more than 5,000 EU nurses in the last 2 years.

Brexit is making the nursing crisis worse, and the only cure the Tories can offer is a new Nurse Tax.

The Liberal Democrats have the solution to the nursing crisis, Stop Brexit so that we can build a brighter future for our precious NHS.

We are already struggling to maintain safe staffing levels on hospital wards. Brexit simply makes that job more difficult. Why on earth would the EU nationals we need pay thousands to come here when they could live and work for free in 27 other countries?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News and Op-eds.


  • Helen Dudden 16th Nov '19 - 10:03am

    Luciana, we have a problem with democracy and law and order.
    Firstly, knife crime is a serious issue all over our country. Drug and alcohol abuse, depression is high even in our young.
    Our NHS struggles with the over load, can it remain free.
    I read about a flooded village built on a flood plain? We are a tiny island.
    I wrote to the local PCC on the subject of Hate Crime and Disabled People, I’m disabled. A 40% rise in this issue alone.
    We have had the Bedroom Tax and Food Banks, the Food Bank was supported by a former LibDem MP, locally.
    I was born in 1948, times were tough to say the least. There was much more respect for others in those days. Doors opened, shopping carried, seats given up on trains and buses.
    I came into the tent, I believe in what I believe, the right to live in a decent caring society.

  • nigel hunter 16th Nov '19 - 10:26am

    France is reorganising its economy and paying workers more (learnt from the riots). Amongst this is an increase in Nurse doctor.s pay. By expelling people from the UK with a growth in wages in the EU. why would they want to come back to the UK? Charging money for the ‘privilege’ of coming,hostile environment fears coming here is a no brainer. We will need pay rises improved training AND the reintroduction of bursa.ries.Coupled with the reduction of rental costs to students (this is what costs students the most) this could encourage recruitment.
    For all sorts of reasons we need workers from abroad. We will be unable to compete without workers. Free movement is a boon. Staying in the EU is the best thing for us

  • Peter Martin 16th Nov '19 - 10:49am

    As I understand it, many LibDems favour the idea of introducing a Universal Basic Income. In a Post Industrial Society there won’t be enough jobs for everyone. Cars will be made by robots. Supermarket checkouts are all customer operated. Bank tellers have long since been replaced by ATMs etc etc.

    But on the other hand we can’t manage without EU workers to pick our apples and run the health service.

    Have I got this right?

  • David Evershed 16th Nov '19 - 11:45am

    Two issues.

    1. Under the EU we are discriminating against immigrants from Africa, Asia and Americas, hard to justify as a Liberal.

    2. Taking trained medical staff from less wealthy countries in the EU and depriving their health services of trained staff is hard to justify as a Liberal.

  • David Becket 16th Nov '19 - 7:34pm

    Third issue
    Taking medical staff from third world countries where they are desperately needed is hard to justify as a liberal. Let’s keep the discrimination.

  • @David Evershed

    “”””1. Under the EU we are discriminating against immigrants from Africa, Asia and Americas, hard to justify as a Liberal.””””

    As a nation state possibly outside the EU, we will be discriminating against immigrants from Africa, America, Asia and continental Europe. Are you proposing open borders?

    “”””2. Taking trained medical staff from less wealthy countries in the EU and depriving their health services of trained staff is hard to justify as a Liberal.””””

    If said medical staff don’t want to live and work in their country, must they be compelled to, like citizens from behind the Iron Curtain?

  • Peter,

    Of cause you could force UK residents to pick apples and vegatables, it just isn’t very Liberal. However i do look forward to you and the rest of the brave Brexiteers rushing down to the farm to make Brexit work.

  • james,

    Peter and Co seem to feel perople should not move from the country they where born in, now what could they call that Neo-serfism perhaps or a local population for local villages. When you scratch them you just find old fashioned recationaries no matter what they claim to be.

  • Peter Martin 17th Nov '19 - 9:14am

    @ frankie,

    So let me get this straight. The Lib Dem position is that we shouldn’t force UK workers to work for minimum wages, or sub minimum wages if we include what actually happens in the workplace (there’s been some figure recently released on the extent of unpaid overtime in the NHS for example), picking our apples or tending the sick. We import workers from overseas to do that. That’s perfectly OK.

    As I understand it Lib Dems support the principle of supply and demand. If we can’t find any takers for jobs paying £7 per hour then maybe we try again at £8 or even £10 per hour? Or maybe not. Alternatively we flood the market with cheap labour and force down wages to £5 per hour.

  • Where does he say that? The minimum wage applies to all workers regardless of background or nationality so employers should not be paying less. The problem is a lack of enforcement in certain industries. I earn the minimum wage myself but don’t have a problem with it.

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