Following the arrival of Royal Baby Sussex over the Bank Holiday weekend, Best for Britain has released an open letter today, supported by the Royal College of Midwives CEO, MPs and local midwives, to raise awareness of Brexit’s threat to UK maternity services.
The letter is launched on the day it's revealed 5,000 EU-trained nurses and midwives have left the UK since the triggering of Article 50 in March 2017.
Best for Britain has published an open letter, endorsed by the Royal College of Midwives CEO Gill Walton and signed by local midwives across the UK, slamming Brexit’s impact on maternity services in the UK and calling for a final say on the Brexit deal.
Data published today (8th May) by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) shows that following a peak of 38,024 in March 2017, the number of EU-trained nurses and midwives has reduced to 33,035 this year – a 13 percent drop (nearly 5,000) over two years, and crucially since the triggering of Article 50.
The figures reveal that the number of people from the EEA on the NMC register decreased by 5.9 percent between March 2018 and March 2019.
Elsewhere in the survey findings, 51 percent of those nurses and midwives who trained within the EU, left the register and responded to the survey stated Brexit as a reason for encouraging them to consider working outside the UK.
Commenting, Royal College of Midwives CEO and General Secretary, Gill Walton said:
“EU midwives provide NHS care to tens of thousands of women every year and they make a vital contribution to the provision of care - we’re lucky to have them.
“Unfortunately over the last year just thirty-three midwives arrived from elsewhere in the EU to work as midwives here in the UK and we used to count them in their hundreds.
“UK maternity services are already stretched and short-staffed, but Brexit threatens to make things even worse.
“It’s my belief, and the firm belief of the Royal College of Midwives, that it should be we, the people, who make that decision about the future of our country, and not just a handful of politicians. All of us deserve a final say because this matters so much to the country, the NHS and our maternity services.”
Best for Britain supporter Clive Lewis MP said:
"The Brexit effect is already causing irrevocable damage to maternity services across the UK.
“Without more staff and proper funding, experienced medical professionals from within the UK and across Europe will simply keep leaving, and it’ll become ever harder for those that are left to meet the growing demands being placed on our NHS.
“It’s clear that no form of Brexit can reassure EU-trained NHS staff that they’ll have rights, jobs and a future in the UK once Brexit becomes a reality. This is why we need a confirmatory public vote on any deal parliament finally agrees on.”
Best for Britain supporter Dr Paul Williams MP said:
“Midwives have had enough of years of austerity, funding cuts and staffing shortages. Brexit is the last straw.
“The NHS faces a staffing shortfall due to a double whammy of European and UK-trained medics leaving our hospitals. And with NHS staffing pressures showing no sign of easing, no-one could blame EU midwives for thinking they’ll be better off elsewhere.
“The only deal that protects mothers and babies is the current one we have as part of the EU. That’s why we need a final say with an option to stay.”
Best for Britain supporter Tim Farron MP said:
“Midwives and maternity support workers here in the UK do an incredible job of keeping thousands of new mothers and babies healthy and safe every year.
“But Brexit threatens to undermine the highest standards of patient care in our maternity wards, which are being crippled by funding cuts, medical supply shortages, and the mass exodus of EU-trained midwives.
“The only deal that protects our NHS is the current one as a part of the EU. That’s why we need to put Brexit back to the people with a final say and an option to stay.”
Jess Phillips MP said:
"Brexit poses an existential threat to our world-class midwifery and maternity support services. Brexit has already been a major driver of midwife departures, with far fewer EU-registered midwives coming to the UK since the EU referendum, leaving our hospitals under-staffed and vulnerable.
“Communities like the one I represent are already suffering from the burning injustices of Brexit. It is shocking that there is only one midwife covering my entire constituency. My constituents deserve better.
“We are facing a national emergency, and the only deal that protects our maternity services is our current one as part of the EU. That’s why we need to give the public a final say on Brexit."
Patricia Hurley, Positive Start midwife from Doncaster, said:
“Midwives provide a crucial service to our country but our maternity wards are currently understaffed and overworked. Any kind of Brexit would reduce the number of EU midwives and maternity support workers, increasing the risks to new mothers and babies.
"The only deal that protects our world-class maternity services is the one we currently have with the EU. That’s why I back giving the public a final say on Brexit.”
Hayley Dansey, midwife from NHS Grampian Scotland, said:
"Brexit is tearing our hospitals apart. We rely on the incredible work of EU staff who bring a depth of experience, insight and diverse skillset which has become so integral to our learning and practice as midwives. EU workers help us maintain the highest standard of care in units that are already overstretched and short-staffed.
"But with so many EU nationals leaving our hospitals, there is only so much we can take. Brexit is compromising patient safety and putting people at risk.
“We can’t stand on the sidelines. If we didn’t fight Brexit, we would be failing generations of women and their families by being unable to continue providing the exceptional care we strive so hard to achieve.”
Also commenting, Phoebe Curtis, midwife from Homerton Hospital London said:
"I am a midwife at Homerton Hospital in London where I have worked for the last two years. Our department is made up of large numbers of midwives from the EU who are an integral part of the community by providing care to mothers before the birth of their baby and in the weeks immediately after.
"Leaving the EU will have a hugely detrimental impact on the quality of care we can provide to mums and babies in the community, placing additional pressure on our already under-funded NHS. When this is combined with the cuts the government has made to midwifery bursaries, it could be the final blow to our ability to care for mums and babies in our community.
"That's why I support giving the public the final say on Brexit."
What does the letter say?
We are midwives and maternity support workers from your region who are devastated by the threat of Brexit. We are deeply worried about the falling numbers of EU midwives coming to Britain to work in the NHS because of the hostile environment that Brexit has created.
Stretched and short-staffed
There are three-quarters of a million births in the UK each year, and having a baby is the most common reason for admission to hospital. Our maternity services are already stretched and short-staffed, but Brexit threatens to make things even worse.
Ending free movement will put off midwives and other healthcare workers from coming to the UK. It is already putting them off, with the number coming having all but collapsed. In the year to March last year, just 33 EU midwives registered to work as midwives here in the UK. We used to attract hundreds.
Brexit putting people off
Nobody is clear about what Brexit should look like today, let alone almost three years ago when the referendum took place. And that vote was based on half-truths and, at times, downright lies. They promised so much for the NHS, but the deal on the table today looks nothing like what they told us back then. All of us deserve a final say - not just politicians - because this matters so much to the country, the NHS and our maternity services.
Minds have changed
Midwives and maternity support workers are part of a growing shift in opinion in your region against any kind of Brexit. According to analysis by Best for Britain and HOPE not hate, between the referendum and November 2018, [see below]% more voters in your region would now vote to keep our EU membership.
That’s why we need a final say.