Doctors, nurses and other health care workers, together with patients and politicians, are converging on Nottingham on Saturday (September 14) for a ‘Save our NHS’ rally.
Campaigners from across the political spectrum fear that Brexit, especially a No Deal Brexit, will have a devastating effect on health services throughout Nottinghamshire and the rest of the country.
Dr Sheila Marriott, Regional Director of the Royal College of Nursing in the East Midlands, is one of the main speakers at the event taking place by the Brian Clough statue in the city centre. She said: “With 40,000 unfilled posts for nurses, the NHS in England is in the midst of a serious supply crisis.
“In the year before the referendum, more than 9,000 nurses and midwives from the EU registered to practise in the UK, compared to less than 1,000 in the most recent year. Over the same period, more than 10,000 nurses and midwives from the EU have left the register, with many of those citing Brexit as the reason.
“The RCN will continue to press for a People’s Vote on a Brexit deal because exiting the EU carries unresolved risks to the provision of safe and effective patient care.”
Joan Pons Laplana, UK Nurse of the Year in 2018, who is also one of the main speakers, said: “Nobody voted to kill the NHS, yet with the prospect of leaving Europe without a deal and ending the freedom of movement for EU citizens the Government might as well start planning its funeral.”
The campaigners have identified four major threats:
worsening staff shortages. The NHS relies on EU staff but many now feel unwelcome and are going home, making the crisis even worse
the interruption of the supply of cancer treatments and other medicines from Europe putting the lives of patients at risk. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted that the government cannot guarantee there’ll be no loss of life caused by a No Deal Brexit.
Donald Trump is insisting the NHS should be part of any trade deal between the UK and the US. Instead of the NHS being free as it is now, we’re likely to move to a costly insurance-based system.
Britain has always been a world leader in medical research but now Brexit threatens that with EU funding being withdrawn.
Rory Palmer, Labour’s MEP for Nottingham & Nottinghamshire, who is also speaking at the event said: “I’m not prepared to stand by and watch whilst we see the NHS inflicted with real, serious and lasting damage because of Brexit. Warnings of medicines shortages and delays in the supply of vital medical isotopes used in cancer treatment, and concerns about the NHS workforce crisis being made even worse, are not scaremongering. It’s the grim reality facing our precious NHS.
“A third of EU doctors have told the British Medical Association they are considering leaving the NHS due to Brexit concerns. With 10,000 vacancies already across the health service, this would be a disaster for patient care.”
“The UK would be pushed to the back of the queue for new life-saving medicines. A catastrophic No Deal Brexit at the end of October would collide with Winter Pressures in the NHS. This could become a perfect storm and the Government has failed to provide reassurances the NHS is ready for a disastrous No Deal Brexit.”
“Whichever way people voted back in 2016, I don’t believe people voted to push our NHS to the brink.”
Barry Holliday of Nottingham City Liberal Democrats, who will also be speaking, said: “With the Tory government hurtling us towards a hard right no-deal Brexit it’s never been more important to make sure we fight to protect our country and our world famous NHS from the ravages that any Brexit will bring to the UK. Here in Nottingham we are blessed with the fantastic QMC and City hospitals but Brexit threatens to undermine the great work they do.
“Just this year Nottingham was at the forefront of international research with Italian counterparts into treatments for Asthma, Arthritis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease and that’s before we get into the impact on staffing levels like the around 200 EU nationals working as nurses here in Nottingham.
“Brexit could be the travesty of our generation, but a Peoples Vote, with the option to Remain will be our saving grace in the NHS’s hour of need. That’s why I and the rest of the Liberal Democrats have and will explicitly campaign to stop Brexit!”
Lillian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South, said: “The Leave campaign’s most notorious lie was their claim that Brexit would be good for our NHS, promising it would receive £350 million a week in extra funding.
“We now know that nothing could be further than the truth. The British Medical Association has warned that Brexit will have a catastrophic impact on our health services, through the loss of highly-skilled doctors, disruption to patient care, and shortages of drugs – which is already being reported in local chemists.”
The MP for Nottingham East, Chris Leslie, said: “The NHS is one of our most important national institutions and the risks to it from Brexit are deeply concerning. To take one example, a recent report from the University of Nottingham has shown migrant nurses working in the NHS have been facing higher levels of discrimination and racism since the Brexit vote. Not only is this shocking and disgraceful in itself, it is also contributing to a major shortage in nurses working in our NHS, a situation which will no doubt get worse when we exit the EU.”
Susan Martin, Chair of the Nottingham People’s Vote campaign, which is organising the rally together with the Nottingham European Movement, said: “The response while we’ve been promoting the Save our NHS rally has been fantastic and we’re expecting a big turn-out on Saturday. Whatever people’s views on Brexit, no one wants to see it threaten the NHS in any way.”
The rally takes place from 12 and 2pm by the Brian Clough statue off Market Square on Saturday September 14.
Sheila Marriott, Regional Director of the Royal College of Nursing.
The Roaring Nurse, Joan Pons Laplana, Nurse of the Year in 2018 and a passionate believer in the NHS.
Narinder Sharma, a former NHS board member and experienced former CEO of rare disease and geriatric charities. Currently CEO of a Carer Charity.
Jay Mandal, NHS GP.
Rory Palmer, East Midlands Labour MEP.
Barry Holliday, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
Several NHS front line professionals who are not prepared to see their high standards destroyed by Brexit.
Patients talking about the impact of Brexit on their medications and treatment.
More speakers to be announced in the coming week.