Not enough nurses and doctors are being trained in the UK to meet demand, the chief executive of NGH has said.
Although Dr Sonia Swart said the consequences of Brexit for hospital recruitment were not yet clear, she could see that NGH relied heavily on foreign staff to keep all services going.
She said: “The NHS has been dependent on a multinational highly skilled workforce for a long time.
“In recent times we have been recruiting large numbers of nurses from the EU and further afield and increasingly are reliant on medical staff from other countries.
“This is so much part of our ethos that we mostly assume that this will continue. We simply do not train enough nurses and doctors to meet the demand on the services we provide.”
About 55,000 of the NHS’s 1.3 million workforce and 80,000 of the 1.3 million workers in the adult social care sector come from other EU countries.
Even with this influx, there are 50,000 fewer healthcare staff than managers say they need, with a particular lack of nurses, midwives and health visitors.
NHS medical director Bruce Keogh and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt have both sought to publicly reassure EU staff post-Brexit.
However, no leader has yet addressed what the stance of the UK will be towards workers in the future.
During the campaign some Brexiteers advocated an Australian-based points system, which can be adjusted to let in more or fewer foreign workers as needed.
The Kings Fund charity has advocated adding nurses and midwives to the ‘shortage occupation list’, which enables employers to recruit certain professions when there are not enough trained Brits.
Charity bosses called for speedy clarification to help stop workers leaving the UK out of uncertainty.
Dr Swart said there was some reassurance in the fact that EU workers were both needed and welcome, and that any changes would be slow arriving.
She said: “Clearly the outcome of the referendum will have big implications and we will have to wait and see how legislation evolves.
“This is definitely a time to remember that change is inevitable, that the referendum result will have far-reaching implications, but that nothing is likely to change very quickly. In particular we will continue to need to recruit a workforce from other countries.
“We need these people and they need us and what we also need to remember is that diversity in the workforce brings great value.
“We learn more about ourselves and more about others and provide better care if we embrace difference.”