Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Nurse to warn march that Brexit will be 'last nail in NHS coffin'


Brexit will make it “more difficult to provide safe care”, a high profile nurse campaigner will claim at the People’s Vote march tomorrow in London.

Joan Pons Laplana is set to take to the stage during the Put it to the People March outside parliament on Saturday, in order to raise his concerns over what impact Brexit could have on the health service. The event, which will see a number of speakers, will include a section dedicated to the NHS.

“We are desperate for staff, we cannot afford to turn our backs to our European friends”

Joan Pons Laplana

The march, which will call for a public vote on the final Brexit deal to be held, comes just six days before the government originally planned to take Britain out of the European Union, though this now looks to have been extended until at least the 22 May.

Mr Pons Laplana will address fellow campaigners and warn that “Brexit will be the last nail in the coffin” of the “beloved NHS”, according to his speech seen by Nursing Times.

He is also expected to discuss how leaving the EU will mean that providing safe care would be more difficult and that it could also mean the end of free care altogether.

In addition, he will highlight to attendees that in a time where “we are desperate for staff, we cannot afford to turn our backs to our European friends”.

“I am a nurse and I have a duty of care, I have the duty to tell all of you that Brexit will be the last nail in the coffin of our beloved NHS”

Joan Pons Laplana

Mr Pons Laplana came to the UK 19 years ago to pursue his “dream” of becoming a nurse. In his speech he will tell marchers that from the moment he stepped off the plane he “felt at home”.

As previously reported by Nursing Times, Mr Pons Laplana was one of the first nurses to embark on a new year-long clinical informatics fellowship with NHS Digital last May.

The nurse, who until recently was a transformation nurse at James Paget University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, has just been appointed as lead nurse for digital transformation at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

However, since the referendum in 2016, his life has been “turned upside down”. Mr Pons Laplana will describe to marchers, how since the country’s decision to leave, he has encountered “over a thousand days of uncertainty”, filled with sleepless nights, anxiety and being voiceless.

In a section of the march specifically dedicated to the NHS, Mr Pons Laplana will also highlight that there are people of more than 200 nationalities currently working together in the health service.

“Diversity is what makes it the best health care system in the world,” he is due to say.

Mr Pons Laplana is also expected to explain how more than 10,000 of his EU colleagues “have had enough” and have left the health service already.

“We’re not the reason why our NHS is at its knees,” he will say. “One in four doctors are migrants and one in seven nurses are from overseas.

“We are the reason why our NHS is still standing on its feet,” he will say.

Joan Pons Laplana

Joan Pons Laplana

Joan Pons Laplana

Mr Pons Laplana will tell those at the march how “a lot of people” voted for Brexit because they wanted to help the NHS, due to the £350m tagline “splashed” on the side of the red bus campaign.

“Mrs May is playing ‘Russian Roulette’ with your lives,” he will warn.

“I am a nurse and I have a duty of care, I have the duty to tell all of you that Brexit will be the last nail in the coffin of our beloved NHS,” he is due to say.

“Nobody voted to kill the NHS,” he will add. “This is why I demand a people’s vote.”

The march is set to begin at 12pm on Saturday 23 March on London’s Park Lane and is due to end in Parliament Square in Westminster.


Readers' comments (7)

  • We don't need low quality Nurses that can barely speak English, who understand nothing of British culture to fill the gap in nursing. We need British trained nurses.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'm sorry, but the above comment does nothing to heal divisions or show respect towards colleagues who deserve this whatever their background or political stance. We are all of equal value. I am not afraid to hide behind anonymity when expressing this view.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • My life was saved by teams of NHS staff. I am eternally grateful for the dedication and kindness they showed me. I will never forget the lesson of kindness they taught me. One of the teams was over 50% from EU countries: Spain, Portugal, Poland. They were all brilliant highly skilled medical staff.

    Please read my poem for them:

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Claire

    I’m sad to see the first comment on this article, which is jingoistic and racist. I’m not surprised they chose to be anonymous, and I hope no foreign nurse reads it and gives it enough credibility to be upset by it.
    Of course we should be educating enough UK nurses to stabilise and renew our workforce for the future, and many of those might not be UK born and bred. But there is always an opportunity for non UK trained nurses to come here and contribute and learn, and I expect we will rely on them for many years to come. Even after our dependence is over some day in the future, I welcome the diversity of experience foreign nurses will bring. I think the original poster might change their tune if they were lying in a hospital bed with not enough nurses - a foreign nurse might just save their life.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Britian has been relying on foreign nurses since 1948. My aunt and her peers came and in essence saved the NHS. Anonymous might want to consider why the NHS hasn't been able to interest british nurses in enough numbers to work and stay in the NHS.
    I am really disappointed by your xenophobic comments and would like to encourage you to post using your name . Disappointed but not surprised as I have met many of your type in my 21 years years in theNHS. The good news is that most of the people have been lovely and welcoming so I won't let your views spoil that opinion. Have a good week and I hope that my English is acceptable xx

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'd like to add my disappointment at the first comment. I've been privileged to work with nurses from many different countries and cultures in my career.
    The fact that the comment has been posted anonymously speaks volumes.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dear Mr Laplana: We had the People's vote in 2016; it was called the Referendum. The people were the entire electorate, and we got the result we got. Live with it. If the NHS dies, so be it. Other nations seem to do ok without it. Let's look at what works best around the world, and cherry pick the best for our needs.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.