Hospitals haemorrhaging clinically qualified EU citizens

20 February 2018

There are over 6,000 nurses from the European Union working in London’s health service. [2] 

The capital’s health service is twice as reliant on EU staff as the rest of the country.

Reports that the number of EU nurses registering to work in Britain have fallen by 90 per cent compared to the year before are alarming, particularly at a time when nursing vacancies have hit an all-time high. [3]

The London Assembly Health Committee wants the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union to give health workers greater certainty about their future.

In its fourth Brexit Directive letter to the Mayor, the London Assembly urges him to discuss whether the Government could provide a sector-specific guarantee for the rights of EU healthcare workers.

It also recommends that the Mayor asks the Government to review what impact the removal of nursing bursaries has had on nursing applications.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM, Chair of the Health Committee said:

“Many of our hospitals and clinics simply could not function without EU citizens. There are consultants, GPs, surgeons and clerical staff from the EU, all working to keep Londoners healthy. EU nurses and doctors are skilled professionals and if they’re uncertain about their status in the UK, they leave the NHS.


Last summer, our EU Exit Working Group heard that continued uncertainty is having a significant effect on EU nationals’ quality of life and decisions about their future.


We welcome the Phase 1 Brexit agreement but it doesn’t provide enough reassurance for EU citizens. An agreement in principle is not the same as a guarantee.


We also question - in light of new evidence on the reduction in applications to study nursing - whether the time come to ask if the removal of nursing bursaries was the right decision for our NHS.”

Notes to editors

  1. Letter to the Mayor attached
  2. Actual figure was 6,217 as at May 2017, according to NHS Workforce Statistics, released Jan 23 2018
  3. Nursing Times, Extent of nurse shortages revealed in new recruitment figures, 23 January 2018
  4. London Assembly work on the impact of Brexit to date
  5. Onkar Sahota AM, Chairman of the Health Committee, is available for interview – see contact details below.
  6. EU Exit Working Group
  7. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.


For media enquiries, please contact Alison Bell on 020 7983 4228.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer.  Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.

Share this page