“Quit the EU to save our #NHS” said the Daily Express
It was the wrong diagnosis, but voters believed it.
The latest news is that the NHS is facing “the greatest workforce crisis in its history”, which is bringing our health service to its knees.
NHS England is facing a chronic and dangerous shortage of staff that is putting patients’ lives at risk, affecting almost every area of care. That’s the conclusion of Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee that has produced a damning report, blaming the government for an ‘absence of strategy.’
The influential group of cross-party MPs has warned that the shortage of staff in the NHS is likely to be considerably worse than official figures suggest.
NHS Digital figures suggest that the service has vacancies for 38,972 nurses and 8,016 doctors. However, the real figures could be as high as 50,000 and 12,000 respectively, according to estimates the Nuffield Trust prepared for the MPs.
The report says:
“The persistent understaffing of the NHS now poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety, both for routine and emergency care. It also costs more as patients present later with more serious illness,”
Although all newspapers reported this shocking NHS crisis, few mention a core reason: Brexit.
Tens of thousands of EU citizens have left the NHS since Brexit (we don’t know the exact numbers) and, because of Brexit, it’s now more difficult for the NHS to recruit staff from the rest of Europe.
But this wasn’t the story before the referendum. In February 2016, four months before the vote, the Daily Express ran a front-page splash claiming:
‘QUIT THE EU TO SAVE OUR NHS’
The paper asserted that,
‘Top doctor says migrants are bleeding it dry’
It was a reprehensible report and entirely incorrect. I thoroughly debunked the Daily Express’s article at the time. But unfortunately, many voters believed reports like this in the Daily Express and Daily Mail, together with the false claim that voting Leave would result in a Brexit bonanza of an extra £350m a week for the NHS.
This directly resulted in Leave narrowly ‘winning’ the referendum. YES, without false reporting about the NHS in the leadup to the referendum, Leave would NOT have won.
Even Vote Leave campaign director, Dominic Cummings, agreed after the referendum that the £350m a week bus claim clinched the win for Leave.
As it turns out, and as I predicted, the complete opposite to what the Daily Express claimed has turned out to be true. Without migrants our NHS cannot survive. And most especially, with fewer EU citizens working in our NHS because of Brexit, it is now suffering “the greatest workforce crisis in its history”.
As I concluded in my response to the Daily Express back in February 2016:
‘It’s true that hospitals are overstretched; but it’s disingenuous, mean, and nasty to blame EU migrants for that. ‘The reason hospitals are struggling is because of lack of investment to meet demand, especially from the growing number of older patients (rather than migrants, who are more likely to be treating patients than being patients).’
Professor Dame Jane Dacre, Chair of the Expert Panel, said:
“We could not give the government any higher than an ‘inadequate’ rating on its overall progress in meeting its own targets set for the NHS and social care workforce. We were unable to rate progress on any of the individual commitments we evaluated as good.”
“Rates of bullying in the NHS are far too high, and we found measures to tackle the problem were either inadequate or require improvement.
“Worryingly, our evaluation found that overall progress on all the government commitments we looked at which involved social care, was inadequate.
“In terms of learning how better to support staff, the government has underestimated the complexity of the fragmented delivery model in the social care sector and failed to put a mechanism in place to listen to the their views.”
[The usual empty promises, then. All part of a plan to gaslight us into ‘agreeing’ that increased privatisation is the only way to go. Editor-in-Chief]
Jon Danzig is a campaigning journalist and film maker who specialises in writing about health, human rights, and Europe. He is also founder of the pro-EU information campaign, Reasons2Rejoin. You can follow Jon Danzig on his Facebook journalism page at www.Facebook.com/JonDanzigWrites