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EU Workers in the Care Sector Suffering Racial Abuse

European Union workers in the UK health sector are suffering from a backlash in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. They often feel marginalised and unwanted and many are considering fleeing the country to escape what they consider to be a growing climate of xenophobia.

Over 55,000 workers in the English health service are EU citizens of other countries. Several of them were interviewed by the Guardian and shared their feelings of fear and uncertainty that are paralleled all across the health and social services sector.

I might have to to join my British colleagues in Australia

“I am concerned about the economic repercussions on an already financially stretched NHS. Morale has been low for a while due to the junior doctor dispute, which has already prompted me to reconsider my choice of specialty. I have already acquired British citizenship after 11 fantastic years training here and love the UK. But in the past few years with the rise of racist attitudes and with such a difficult atmosphere in the NHS (low morale, our training suffering, dissatisfied patients sometimes becoming aggressive) I may well decide with my partner to join my many British colleagues already in Australia, feeling valued as professionals and loving it.”

Consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology in Manchester, from Italy

I have been suffering from a lot of racial abuse over the last few days

“I was an economist before becoming a paramedic 17 years ago. I feel unsafe here now and have been taking a lot of racial abuse the past few days from patients and the public. I’ll head home to Ireland, exacerbating the already critical shortage of paramedics.”

Paramedic in Southampton, from Ireland

It’s a sombre outlook for the NHS and Social Services post-Brexit

“I have lived and worked here for 16 years. It feels as if 50% of the population in the UK doesn’t want me here anymore. I feel as if a rug has been pulled out from under my feet. This is not only a huge economic and political disaster, but also a personal crisis for me and my family. 

The economic crisis post-Brexit will only worsen the funding gap in the NHS which will reduce availability of treatments further. I didn’t believe for a second the promise of £350m for the NHS that the Leave campaign promised. Workload for GPs is already unsustainable. It will only worsen when people get poorer in view of rising taxes, prices and cuts that have been announced. This will in turn increase morbidity of mental illness which will increase workload further. It’s a bleak outlook for the NHS.”

GP from Germany

I feel trapped in the UK as the country is in upheaval.

“Since the referendum, I wish I had not come to the UK. Half of the population does not want me here although my patients show a lot of appreciation for what I do for them. I find it all very confusing and unsettling. I am tearful at times. And I feel trapped as the country is in chaos and I can not easily sell my house. If I had the chance I would leave now.

The Leave voters should have considered the impact on immigrants (20% of my hospital’s staff are immigrants). There will be even more pressure on hospital staff, leading to an exodus of British nurses and other staff.”

Allied health professional from the Netherlands

We are moving towards a model of expensive private healthcare

“Having trained, worked and lived in the UK for nearly 20 years, instead of feeling that I am now part of it, I feel increasingly alienated. I don’t like living here now. I have seen the NHS decline over the last decade and hold no hopes for it. We are heading towards a US model of expensive private care running alongside a bare-minimum state provision for the poor. I do not wish to engage professionally with such a system. It is baffling that so many believed the EU money would be directed towards the NHS – how can people be so naive? Or are they simply using the politically correct NHS cause as an excuse behind which to hide their fundamental racism?”

Consultant in infectious diseases, from Italy

An immigrant has feelings and we came here for a better life

“When I walk down the street and see people, I wonder whether they voted leave or remain. I’m afraid that if someone hears my accent they might shout: “Go back to your own country”. All I feel now is fear. I can’t make any plans for my family’s future because I’m not sure what’s going to happen in the next two years.

At work when people smile at me, I don’t know if it’s a fake smile or not. I worry about patients’ reactions if I tell them that I’m from Poland – will they reject my help? My friend who works in A&E told a patient she was from Poland, and they asked: “Have you packed your bags yet, because you need to leave soon?” My friend just smiled. I’m not sure what my reaction would be. I want British people to realise that an immigrant is a person with feelings and we came here to have a better life, rather than to cause trouble. “

Senior healthcare assistant in Peterborough, from Poland

Immigrants are an integral part of the country

“I feel betrayed by Great Britain. I feel like a second-class citizen. What really gets me angry is that David Cameron did not allow us to have our say in the EU referendum.

Nobody will deport any EU citizens back to their countries. The UK economy and especially the health system will collapse if so. Immigrants are here to stay. We are part of the backbone of this country and will continue to be.

We currently have a massive recruitment crisis. Thousands of NHS nursing and doctor posts lie vacant. More than two-thirds of trusts and health boards in the UK are trying to recruit from abroad as they struggle to cope with a shortage of qualified staff. We are in desperate need of qualified nurses and the best place to recruit them will still be in EU countries like Spain where the number of qualified nurses exceeds their country’s demands.”

Community staff nurse in Chesterfield, from Spain

Are you an EU citizen?

How has the Brexit affected you? Have you suffered from any racial abuse?

We’d like to hear about your experience and offer support in this difficult time here at Live-in care Care UK.
 

Written By:

Daniel James
www.danieljamesbio.com
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