Brexit will trigger serious NHS staff shortages and cost taxpayers £265m to rehire EU doctors and nurses, claim the Liberal Democrats. Research has indicated that due to the decision to leave the European Union, up to 26,500 NHS workers may leave the UK.

Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has spoken about how dependent the National Health Service is on its EU doctors, nurses and other NHS staff, and claims we will pay the consequences without them.

“These are skilled and hard-working people, who all work tirelessly to look after all of us. Our NHS and the care we all rely on will suffer without them,” said Clegg, according to a report by the Sun.

The Impact of Brexit

Clegg has claimed that the number of EU nationals registering as nurses in the UK has fallen by 90 percent since the Brexit vote. These new numbers have caused further concerns for the future of the NHS. It was only back in January this year that a report highlighted NHS patients were being left hungry, thirsty and desperate for the toilet by hospital staff who failed to respond to call bells. In addition, The Sun reported that at least two Britons die a day of thirst and starvation in NHS hospitals.

Critics have blamed this situation on the ‘back-breaking' workloads piled on NHS staff. They believe the staff just don’t have the time to help patients eat and drink.

Joyce Robin of Patient Concern (a company that promotes choice and empowerment for all health service users) has spoken about how patients are being neglected.

“Hospital wards are full and staff are run off their feet looking after so many patients it is impossible to give them the care they need,” said Robin.

Further Concerns for the NHS

To add to the NHS’ short staffing concerns, a recent article by the BBC revealed that ‘tens of thousands of expat pensioners may return to the UK to use the NHS after Brexit’.

The BBC stated that ‘the NHS would need around 1,600 more doctors, nurses and other workers to provide the care’ if this happens.

A report from the Nuffield Trust has suggested that the NHS could face a bill of £1m a year “unless a deal is done to let them (the expats) keep receiving care in the EU.” The agreement in place currently protects around 190,000 pensioners, the health charity said.

The one element of good news for the NHS post-Brexit is that when the UK leaves the EU, it could stop paying EU membership fees. Money from this saving could be used by the NHS, but how much this figure transpires to be is unclear.

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