A bad Brexit deal could “jeopardise patient care” in hospitals, nurses have warned.
In a letter to party leaders, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) claimed Brexit poses an “immediate risk to the provision of safe and effective care”.
The warning comes as the RCN calls on all political parties to back a referendum on the final Brexit deal.
In its letter, the RCN outlines the “significant challenges” posed by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, including exacerbating existing long-standing problems such as workforce sustainability.
The letter highlights concerns over the “dilution of fair employment practices and workers’ rights” and “cross-border exchange of knowledge, research and skills”.
In the letter, Maria Trewern, chair of council at the RCN, says: “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.
“We have written to all political parties in these terms, as well as publicly shared the content of this letter. This is the next step in our campaigning activity in this area, which will expand in the months to come.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Staff from the EU are a vital part of our NHS and social care workforce, and they will have an important role to play in the future of health and social care in this country.
“We are preparing for all situations, including a no-deal Brexit, and we have worked closely with partners to draw up contingency plans that will ensure patients continue to receive care in exactly the same way they do now.”