NHS staff told to report whether hospital mistakes are caused by Brexit

Exclusive: London hospital staff recording if a safety incident is caused by leaving the EU 

Friday 08 November 2019 13:57 GMT
Staff are ‘seriously worried’ about the impact of leaving the EU
Staff are ‘seriously worried’ about the impact of leaving the EU (Getty)

NHS staff are being told to report whether hospital mistakes have been caused by Brexit.

Staff at a London trust must now record whether a safety incident was “caused or contributed to by leaving the European Union”.

All patient-related mishaps – anything from a patient falling over, to a medicine being missed – must be recorded on a national database.

But in the last few weeks, staff at Barts Health NHS Trust have been told they must stipulate whether or not Brexit was a contributing factor, according to documents seen by The Independent.

The patient safety reporting system now poses the yes-or-no question: “Is there reason to believe it was caused or contributed to by the EU exit transition [Brexit]?”

The new safety category was added in mid-October, days before Boris Johnson attempted to get his Brexit deal through parliament.

A trust source told The Independent staff were “seriously worried” about the effect leaving the EU would have on the hospital, staff and patients.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “Anything that is reportable goes in one of these forms. For example, if there’s safeguarding issues, or if a medicine was missed, or we were understaffed.

“It’s a really generic form that you’d fill out for absolutely anything.

“About two or three weeks ago that question appeared in the form. At first, we were all laughing about it, but it does have serious implications.

Hospital staff must report whether safety incidents are caused by Brexit (supplied)

“All the staff are worried about how Brexit is going to affect us. Especially with our European colleagues that are working with us. We joke about it, but in all seriousness, there’s been a huge drop-off in applications to work in the UK.”

There are 100,000 job vacancies across NHS trusts, representing 9 per cent of posts.

Figures published by the King’s Fund show just 968 nurses and midwives from the European Economic Area joined the national register in 2018/19, a drop of 91 per cent on 2015/16.

The think tank has previously warned that the biggest risks of a no-deal Brexit to the NHS include disruption to medicine supplies, falls in staffing levels, delays to new medicine approvals, a decrease in research funding and impacts on public health.

The source added: “With the exacerbation of services over winter, there’s concern Brexit could make it worse and that medicine and supply shortages and staffing problems could be the daily norm.”

NHS England said the Brexit incident recording was not a national scheme, and that this was an initiative by the individual trust.

A spokesman for Barts Health NHS Trust confirmed that the question had been added to their safety system, but declined to comment further.

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