NHS staff let down by broken Brexit promises – YouGov Poll findings come as almost 8,000 healthcare staff demand a People’s Vote on Brexit - People's Vote

NHS staff let down by broken Brexit promises – YouGov Poll findings come as almost 8,000 healthcare staff demand a People’s Vote on Brexit

Doctors, nurses and carers let down by broken Brexit promises of £350 million more a week for the NHS are switching to support a People’s Vote on Brexit and significantly shifting towards remaining in the European Union, according to a new YouGov poll.  

After two years of uncertainty and broken promises on the NHS caused by Brexit, the poll of 694 public sector health workers found that a majority of NHS staff now back remain - with remain leading leave by 22 per cent. An overwhelming 61 per cent of health workers would now vote to remain a member of the EU (up by 19 per cent since 2016), compared to 39 per cent who would vote to leave. 

Just 13 per cent of NHS workers - including only eight per cent of nurses - expect the NHS to improve if Brexit goes ahead. These figures are even lower than that for the public as a whole - 19 per cent.

 

Support for a People’s Vote

The poll also found that NHS staff back a People’s Vote by a margin of two to one. Almost half (47 per cent) of all public sector health workers back a People’s Vote, with fewer than one quarter (24 per cent) opposing. Hard-working doctors in the NHS overwhelmingly support a People’s Vote. The YouGov poll found 78 per cent of doctors support a People’s Vote on Brexit, with just 6 per cent opposed.

In the event of a “no deal” on Brexit, 57 per cent of NHS staff back a People’s Vote, compared to just 16 per cent who say the decision on the deal should be left to MPs in Parliament.

Support for a People’s Vote in the event of a No Deal is clear across all types of public sector health workers:

  • 51 per cent of caregivers support public voting in a new referendum in the event of a No Deal (13 per cent say leave it to MPs)
  • 54 per cent of nurses support public voting in a new referendum in the event of a No Deal (15 per cent say leave it to MPs)
  • 59 per cent of doctors support public voting in a new referendum in the event of a No Deal (20 per cent say leave it to MPs)

 

Nurses fear for the future of the NHS after Brexit.

65 per cent of nurses would vote to remain in the EU in a referendum on the final deal, compared to just 35 per cent who would choose to leave. The Poll also finds that nurses overwhelmingly fear for the NHS after Brexit, with 47 per cent of nurses saying that the NHS will get worse after Brexit. Only 8 per cent of nurses say the NHS will improve after Brexit. 

Nurses – along with other NHS staff - agree that the Government have failed to carry out Brexit in a way which benefits the country. 85 per cent of nurses agree that the process of leaving the EU so far has been a mess.

 

8,000 healthcare workers call for a People’s Vote

The poll comes as a new letter has been published signed by almost 8,000 healthcare workers, demanding a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal. The letter, signed by 7,868 NHS staff, researchers and scientists says: “The British people have been misled on what Brexit will mean for the NHS. Far from £350 million more a week we are already seeing a staffing crisis and funding cuts – and that’s before Brexit has even happened. New facts have come to light which show Brexit is already damaging the NHS. As nurses, midwives, doctors, professionals, scientists and researchers who work in our National Health Service we demand a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.”

 

The letter sets out three clear reasons why NHS staff fear the damaging effects of a harmful Brexit on the NHS:

  • Brexit’s impact on the NHS staffing puts patient safety at risk. With drastic frontline staff shortages, we need everyone we can get. Applications from health professionals from EU countries are already down, and those already here are leaving. The extra barriers created by Brexit will mean fewer new recruits, leaving current staff dangerously overstretched and putting patients at risk. 
  • Brexit will mean less money available for the NHS. Brexit will cut the amount of money the Government is able to spend overall- In fact, just the fallen pound has already cost the NHS around £2bn in extra costs for overseas supplies and UK citizens' medical treatments. Far from the promised £350 million extra per week for the NHS, every conceivable version of Brexit will result in a smaller economy than we’d have if we stayed in, meaning less money for all public services including the health service.
  • Brexit will hold us back in developing medicines and cutting-edge treatments. Leaving, or downgrading our role in Euratom, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Horizon Europe and other alliances reduces our access to obtain and develop medicines and cutting-edge treatments quickly and reliably.

 

NHS staff to attend rally in support of People’s Vote 

Today hundreds of NHS staff including doctors, nurses and midwives will attend a rally in central London in support of a People’s Vote. Speakers will include Professor Rod Thomson, Vice President of the Royal College of Nursing and Dr Clare Gerada, former Chair of the Royal College of GPs. 

The event is the first public event held by “NHS Against Brexit”, which was launched this week as a public voice for doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and patients demanding a People’s Vote to save the NHS. The campaign, which replaces the ‘Healthier IN the EU’ campaign, adds new resources and aims to gather and share research, case studies, and news stories concerning how Brexit will affect the NHS.

 

 

Peter Kellner, one of Britain’s most respected pollsters and a former president of YouGov, said: 

“The pledge at the heart of the Leave campaign two years ago is rebounding on the Brexiteers. Their promise to spend an extra £350 million a week on the NHS swayed not only voters as a whole; it prompted many NHS workers to vote Leave.

“Like the public as a whole, three in four NHS workers expect the pro-Brexit promise to be broken. But for them, this would be more than a general disappointment. It directly affects their own lives. Today, just 13 per cent of NHS workers – and among them - only eight per cent of nurses - expect the NHS to improve if Brexit goes ahead. (These figures are even lower than that for the public as a whole - 19 per cent.)

“That helps to explain why the 8-point shift to Remain among NHS workers is well above the national average - and the 11-point shift among nurses is one of the greatest of any group polled by YouGov. Two years ago, nurses divided narrowly for Remain - 54-46 per cent. They now divide almost two-to-one against leaving the EU: 65-35 per cent. An eight-point gap has widened to a 30-point chasm.”

 

Professor Rod Thomson, Deputy President of the Royal College of Nursing, is expected to tell the rally today: 

“RCN members voted overwhelmingly at our annual Congress in May for the College to lobby the Government for a referendum on the final terms of the Brexit deal.  Since then, we’ve written to nine Westminster party leaders to call for this and explain why we want it.  

“Nursing staff know at first hand that the impact of Britain’s departure from the EU is likely to be fewer staff on the wards and in the community, with reduced access to new medicines and clinical trials for their patients.  A bad Brexit deal could jeopardise safe and effective patient care.”

 

Dr Mike Galsworthy, founder of NHS against Brexit and a supporter of People’s Vote, said:

“The pace is quickening now, as more and more NHS and health professionals are raising the alarm about Brexit. The many thousands that signed our letter and the dramatic new polling show resistance to Brexit rapidly rising in the NHS & health community. 

“We are already seeing the damage to our staffing and finances, with issues of radioisotopes, European Medicines Agency, research and stockpiling medicines adding to the risks and costs. Brexit attacks the NHS from all sides. At NHS Against Brexit, we are now fighting back. We are demanding a People’s Vote with the option to ditch Brexit entirely.”

\Ends

 

Notes to Editors:

  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 25,641 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st July - 4th September 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).  Total public sector health workers sample size was 694. The full fieldwork is available here: https://bit.ly/2p4f4j2
  2. The full text of the letter signed by 7,868 NHS workers is here:

 

An open letter to the Government

We are doctors, midwives, nurses, researchers and others working in the NHS and health services across this country, and we demand a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.

There is not a single man, woman or child in this country who doesn’t have a personal connection to the NHS. From birth to death the NHS is there for us all, but the threat from Brexit means we can no longer take that for granted.

The British people have been misled on what Brexit will mean for the NHS. Far from £350 million more a week we are already seeing a staffing crisis and funding cuts – and that’s before Brexit has even happened.

New facts have come to light which show Brexit is already damaging the NHS. As nurses, midwives, doctors, professionals, scientists and researchers who work in our National Health Service we demand a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal because:

Brexit’s impact on the NHS staffing puts patient safety at risk. With drastic frontline staff shortages, we need everyone we can get. Applications from health professionals from EU countries are already down, and those already here are leaving. The extra barriers created by Brexit will mean fewer new recruits, leaving current staff dangerously overstretched and putting patients at risk.

Brexit will mean less money available for the NHS. Brexit will cut the amount of money the Government is able to spend overall- In fact, just the fallen pound has already cost the NHS around £2bn in extra costs for overseas supplies and UK citizens' medical treatments. Far from the promised £350 million extra per week for the NHS, every conceivable version of Brexit will result in a smaller economy than we’d have if we stayed in, meaning less money for all public services including the health service.

Brexit will hold us back in developing medicines and cutting-edge treatments. Leaving, or downgrading our role in Euratom, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Horizon Europe and other alliances reduces our access to obtain and develop medicines and cutting-edge treatments quickly and reliably. 

This is not a party-political point but whatever Party you support – or none – it is clear that if the NHS buckles further under this strain, the pressure for privatisation will steadily grow. 

Brexit is not a panacea to the NHS crisis. It is no longer even a placebo. These facts weren’t on the side of a bus -  but the public have a right to know. And ultimately, if it looks as though the cost of Brexit is irreparable damage to our health service, people have every right to ask whether that is too high a price to pay.

That is why we scientists, clinicians and NHS staff demand a People’s Vote.

The NHS Against Brexit rally for NHS staff and health professionals will be held at 12pm on Saturday, 15 September at Unison, 130 Euston Road. More details are available here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/peoples-vote-for-the-nhs-tickets-49694000092