Nurses are being urged to take to social media as part of national campaign to highlight the valuable contribution of migrant workers to the NHS, social care and other key sectors in the UK.
Those behind the 1DayWithoutUs campaign hope to create a “Twitterstorm” next week by getting healthcare professionals and others to share their admiration for colleagues from other countries, including those from around Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
“The impact of Brexit on the NHS and the rise of xenophobia worries me a lot”
Joan Pons Laplana
They said the event, taking place from 7-9pm on 17 January, was a chance to celebrate the vital work of nurses from the European Union and further afield, and generally help combat a “negative image of migrants”.
It follows a major dip in the recruitment of nurses from other European countries, in the wake of the referendum result, and recent warnings at how much health and social care relies on overseas staff.
Figures published this time last year revealed a dramatic 92% fall in the number of EU nurses coming to work in the UK after the Brexit vote – though language testing may have been a factor too.
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Campaigner and nurse Joan Pons Laplana said: “The impact of Brexit on the NHS and the rise of xenophobia worries me a lot. You only had to look at coverage of the NHS crisis last week to see all of the newspapers were blaming the migrants again.
“I want the UK to have a better picture of what migrants do in this country, because some people have the idea that migrants come here and do nothing when in fact they are here working as doctors, nurses, solicitors,” he said.
“So, we want to create a Twitterstorm on January 17 where people tweet about how proud they are of their Spanish nurse colleague or their GP from India who is wonderful,” said Mr Pns Laplana.
He also hoped nurses would take part in a second awareness-raising event on the campaign group’s national day of action on 17 February, when participants will be encouraged to post pictures and videos on social media to recognise the contribution of NHS staff from all nationalities.
Mr Pons Laplana, who is originally from Spain, said the campaign was not only about smashing stereotypes but also making it clear to EU and overseas nurses that they were needed and welcome in the NHS.
Joan Pons Laplana
“We want to show the public reason the NHS is the best healthcare system in the world is because it has attracted the best clinicians from all over the globe,” he said.
“And we want to send a signal to the outside world to say the NHS is still the best place to come and have your career as a health worker,” said Mr Pons Laplana, who is a transformation nurse at James Paget University Hospitals Foundation Trust.
He added: “What worries me is that suddenly nobody wants to come and work in the NHS anymore, so what I’m trying to do is send a positive message that, despite Brexit and other issues, if you want to fulfil your dream of being a nurse or being doctor then this is the best place.
“We have more than 200 nationalities working alongside each other and we never have any problems,” he noted of his own personal experience.
- For more information on the campaign visit the 1DayWithoutUs web page