The UK’s Royal College of Nursing has written to the leaders of nine of the UK’s political parties, calling for a second Brexit referendum.
In a letter signed by the chair of council of the Royal College of Nursing, Maria Trewern, the nursing union and professional body calls on the leaders of political parties in all four countries of the UK to back a second Brexit referendum, which would allow citizens in the UK to vote on whether to accept the final deal.
The Royal College of Nursing represents some 435,000 members and is the world’s largest nursing union. In the letter, the organisation warns that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU – particularly in the case of a hard Brexit, where no deal is struck between the two parties and the UK withdraws from the Single Market – could pose an immediate risk to the provision of safe and effective care by the UK’s nurses.
What potential challenges are UK nurses facing following Brexit?
One immediate concern facing the UK health service is workforce sustainability, with reports indicating that the number of healthcare professionals moving to the UK from EU countries has dropped significantly, and that many doctors and nurses who had settled in the UK are also leaving.
Further, if the UK is forced to withdraw its membership of the European Medicines Agency, access to medicines, and participation in clinical trials and research projects are at risk, which could reduce the quality of care being offered to UK patients.
In the letter, Trewern explains why a second Brexit referendum is in the best interests of the Royal College of Nursing’s membership: “As the debate across our membership has made clear, the implications of Brexit for the health and care system will be numerous. There are risks that, if not credibly addressed, may damage population health, as well as severely impact on our members’ ability to provide safe and effective care for their patients in both the short and the long term.”