#LoveOurEUstaff — why Brexit means we need to make it clear

The UK’s European Union referendum result has led to political uncertainty and left many EU citizens living in the UK with questions about their futures here. In this blog post, Trust director of people and organisation development David Wells makes clear our strong support for NHS staff from overseas and urges all of us to continue to work collaboratively and to stay engaged.

Following the Brexit referendum result on Friday 24 June, a new Twitter hashtag, #LoveOurEUstaff, was conceived. The 24 million impressions so far is a great demonstration of just how much NHS staff from overseas are appreciated.

Our country is currently in a place of uncertainty. There has been no clear message from the Government about what the future holds for EU citizens living in the UK, and headlines are changing faster than reporters can tweet them. Through conversations out and about in our hospitals, I’ve heard that many EU and other overseas citizens are feeling concerned about their futures in the UK. I’ve also seen the media reports of an increase in racist incidents following the referendum vote. I want to be very clear that any harassment or abuse directed at our staff for any reason will not be tolerated.

More generally, I want to provide reassurance that nothing has changed in terms of our support and gratitude for all our staff. Whether you come from Finsbury Park or Frankfurt, Sunderland or New South Wales, we are very proud that you are part of our community.

Our diversity is one of the factors that makes our Trust so special and such a great place to work or to be treated. We all benefit by bringing together our different experiences and expertise, especially in a Trust like ours where we offer such a wide range of services as well as great research and educational opportunities. 

In order to continue to provide great care, I would encourage you all to ‘live our values’ — demonstrate kindness, work collaboratively to support one another and stay motivated in the face of uncertainty. This means being honest and open about what you want from your career at the Trust, as well as expressing any concerns you may have about your future here. Talk to your line manager, your union representatives, your contacts in human resources, so that we can act on your feedback.  

The Brexit vote isn't going to bring any immediate changes for how we work. But I would like to get an accurate understanding of the mood at our Trust to help us do everything we can to ensure continuity and stability for our people in the longer term. In discussion and collaboration with colleagues in the partnership working group, we have decided to set up a web chat on our intranet, the Source, to provide a more direct mechanism to engage in a conversation about this important issue. Join us on Wednesday 20 July at 12.30 on the Source to ask questions and share your thoughts.

In the meantime, please continue to share messages of support for our EU — and other international — staff. And you can also nominate an EU colleague for a new HSJ award that has just been established to help celebrate the contribution of the NHS's European staff. Details are on the Source.