THE UK’s decision to quit the EU continues to deepen the NHS staffing crisis with local hospitals reporting a ‘significant’ and ‘unexpected’ increase in the number of EU nurses leaving their posts in March.

According to Oxfordshire hospital chiefs, the rise is largely down to an increase in Spanish nurses quitting the country because potential changes to rules in Spain threaten to render their work experience in the UK worthless after Brexit.

Currently, Spanish nurses can build up points by working in the UK and other EU countries which can be used to improve their job prospects and salaries if they want to work in hospitals in Spain.

Read again:

Hospital operated on wrong part of man's back twice

However, once the UK leaves the EU (the new deadline has been set for Halloween) experience here will no longer count, unless new a new agreement is made between the two countries.

A report from Oxford University Hospitals states: “March has seen a significant rise in band 5 turnover.

“.... a break down by nationality is included and indicates a high number from within the EU and in particular Spain.

Read again:

Lord Mayor of Oxford tells EU nationals 'Brexit will be a disaster'

The report adds: “... experience working in an EU country is significant for any future employment in Spain and it is likely that this would have created some anxiety related to the planned exit from the EU [previously] scheduled in March.”

However, despite the increase, trust bosses say ongoing recruitment initiatives both within the UK and internationally have allowed the vacancy rate to remain relatively unchanged despite the unexpected increase in turnover of EU nurses.

According to trust documents there are now 15 nurses arriving per month from India.

Read again:

Hospitals campaign to raise awareness of heart disease

Last autumn it was revealed that OUH has the highest proportion of EU nurses of any NHS trust outside London, at 21 per cent.

However, the number of those joining has significantly declined since the referendum in 2016, while the number leaving continues to increase.

In October the trust said EU staff were a ‘long-standing’ and ‘crucial part’ of the workforce and that its hospitals hoped to ‘continue to attract European nurses and nursing assistants’.

Trust bosses had also initially launched a scheme to pay the cost of UK settled status applications on behalf of EU staff members before the fees were scrapped by the government.