Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has emphasised the NHS’ need for EU workers when Britain leaves the European Union.
Mr Hunt said that any post-Brexit deals must enable the NHS to recruit staff from all over the continent, adding that flexible recruitment “is going to continue after we leave the European Union.”
He supported comments from Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd who have both highlighted the need to avoid an immigration “cliff edge” that could prevent the public and private sector from recruiting people with the skills they need.
The Health Secretary added: “The NHS needs to recruit doctors and nurses from all over Europe and that is going to continue after we leave the European Union.”
Jeremy Hunt’s reassurances come amidst controversy over the abandonment of NHS bursaries for students studying a multitude of medical degrees.
As of today, nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy and physiotherapy students will no longer receive bursaries to cover their tuition fees. Instead, they will need to apply for student loans.
The department of health says that ending the bursaries will free up £800m a year to be spent elsewhere in the NHS. The department wants to direct a portion of these funds to create additional nursing roles by 2020, including 21,000 new posts within mental health services.
However, some medical professionals have raised concerns that the removal of these bursaries could prevent students from poorer backgrounds from applying to train.