Dishonest of Johnson to promise more nurses , while staff at his local hospital fear for their jobs and NHS future

November 25, 2019 4:30 PM

Dr Wendy Taylor, Newcastle Liberal Democrats health spokesperson and candidate for Newcastle East has condemned the Conservative Party manifesto commitment to 50,000 more nurses. Dr Taylor said:

"It is dishonest to promise there will be more nurses under Boris Johnson's Conservatives. Our NHS has been consistently hit by the Conservatives' NHS and social care cuts, putting the lives of loved ones right across the country at risk.

"It is insulting to the public and all those who work in the NHS for Boris Johnson to celebrate the return of nurse bursaries. It was the Tories who scrapped them in the first place.

"What the Tories have actually promised at this election is to tax our nurses. By extending the Immigration health surcharge and immigration visa fee to EU health professionals, more and more of EU nurses will see little reason to stay here in the UK. Our NHS currently relies on 20,000 EU nurses, 10,000 EU doctors, and we've already lost more than 5,000 EU nurses in the last 2 years.

"A Liberal Democrats government will introduce a national NHS recruitment strategy and ring-fence £7 billion a year through putting a penny on the pound on income tax.

Meanwhile it has emerged that Boris Johnson is putting the NHS at risk in his own backyard, after internal documents reveal that NHS staff from the EU at Johnson's local hospital trust feel "anxiety" over Brexit.

Board documents from earlier this year show that NHS executives at Boris Johnson's local Hillingdon Trust warned that the most significant risk posed by Brexit is the "anxiety felt by approximately 300 EU nationals in the workforce in terms of their jobs and future at the Trust." A separate document concluded that "the risks to plant and equipment/parts where the supply from the EU is significant."

It comes as figures published by the Liberal Democrats reveal that over 3,250 NHS staff from the EU have left the health service so far this year, including 1,116 nurses. The data, based on responses to Freedom of Information requests from 50 NHS hospital trusts, reveal that:

  • Over 11,600 NHS staff from the EU have left the health service in the three years since the Brexit vote, including 4,783 nurses.
  • Over 3,252 NHS staff from the EU have left the health service so far this year (Jan - Oct 2019), including 1,116 nurses.
  • Some of the worst affected NHS trusts so far in 2019 include London North West (362 EU leavers), Oxford University Hospitals (304 EU leavers) and University Hospitals Bristol (203 EU leavers).

The Liberal Democrats have warned that shortages of NHS staff will get even worse under Tory plans that would see EU nationals charged a "nurse tax" worth thousands of pounds to come and work for the NHS. Nurses and other health professionals from the EU do not currently pay any fees to come and work for the NHS.

However, under Conservative proposals, visa fees and the NHS surcharge would be extended to EU workers, meaning an EU nurse would have to pay £1,089 to work in the NHS for the first year and £3,589 for five years.


"These figures reveal the major threat Brexit poses to our NHS, including in Boris Johnson's own backyard where EU staff are worried about their future here, " commented Dr Taylor.

"The Conservatives' treatment of NHS nurses and doctors from the EU has been utterly shameful. People looking after our sick and elderly relatives have been left living in unbearable uncertainty, and now the Tories want to clobber them with a nurse tax worth thousands of pounds to come and work in the NHS. This will make the severe staff shortages faced by the NHS even worse and patient care will suffer as a result.

"The Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit to protect our NHS. We will make clear to staff from the EU that they are valued, tackle the staffing crisis and invest an extra £35 billion in health and social care."



Figures on NHS staff from the EU leaving the health service were obtained through Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Liberal Democrats. Data was provided by 50 out of 135 NHS Hospital Trusts in England:

  • Over 3252 NHS staff from the EU have left the health service so far this year (Jan - Oct 2019), including 1116 nurses.
  • Some of the worst affected NHS trusts so far in 2019 include London North West (362 EU leavers), Oxford University Hospitals (304 EU leavers) and University Hospitals Bristol (203 EU leavers).
  • 11,600 NHS staff from the EU have left the health service in the three full years since the referendum (since start of 2017), including 4783 nurses.
  • The number of EU leavers increased by 23% from 3,504 in 2015 to 4335 in 2017. The number of EU NHS staff leaving levelled slightly to 4013 in 2018, still up 14% on 2015.
  • The latest figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have shown that the number of new nurses coming from the EU to work in the UK dropped by 87% from 6,382 in 2016/17 to 805 in 2017/18.

Nurse tax

  • The Health Immigration surcharge is currently £400, which is for every year of a visa - 5 year visa equals £2000 for Health surcharge https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/how-much-pay
  • The one-off Immigration visa fee is currently £928 - this would be halved under Conservative proposals for an NHS visa scheme to £464.
  • For EU nurses, and other health professionals, who do not currently pay the health surcharge or visa fees, the Conservatives scheme to extend the visa fees to EU workers in addition to the new health surcharge, would mean an EU nurse will now have to pay £1,089 to work in the NHS for the first year and £3,589 for five years.

Liberal Democrat plans on the NHS

The Liberal Democrats have set out a comprehensive plan to protect NHS by:

  • Stopping Brexit to ensure we retain freedom of movement and continued mutual recognition of qualifications.
  • Raising £7 billion a year additional revenue which will be ring-fenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services. This revenue will be generated from a 1p rise on the basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax (this revenue will be neither levied nor spent in Scotland. This funding would be focused on relieving the crisis in social care, tackling urgent workforce shortages, and investing in mental health and prevention services. This represents the most efficient and effective way of spending these extra resources - ensuring they will have the greatest impact on the quality of care patients receive.
  • Using £10 billion of capital funding to make the necessary investments in equipment, hospitals, community, ambulance and mental health services buildings, to bring them into the 21st Century. NHS leaders recently warned that the Conservative government's lack of investment in capital funding for the NHS is putting patient safety at risk, undermine plans to transform the NHS. (NHS Providers, August 2019).