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Practice managers fear negative Brexit impact on staffing numbers, survey finds

by Angela Sharda
27 March 2019

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The majority of practice managers believe Brexit will have a negative effect on the number of GPs, nurses, and other primary care staff working in the NHS, a new report has revealed. 
The Primary Concerns 2018: The State of Primary Care report, published yesterday by Management in Practice publisher Cogora, surveyed the readers of Cogora’s five primary care publications: Management in Practice, Healthcare Leader, Nursing in Practice, Pulse and The Pharmacist.
More than two-thirds of practice managers, 68%, believed Brexit will have a detrimental impact on the number of nurses working in the NHS, with only 10% believing it would have no impact. 
Just 2.7% of practice managers felt Brexit would have a positive knock-on effect on nursing numbers in the NHS.
Nearly two-thirds of practice manager respondents, 65%, thought Brexit will also cause the number of GPs working in the NHS to drop, with 13% believing it will not have an impact on GP numbers.
Only 2.2% thought the effect of Brexit would be a positive one for GP levels. 
The practice manager figures were moderately lower than the findings for survey respondents as a whole.
Across all the professions, more than 75% thought Brexit would have a negative impact of the number of nurses working in the NHS, and 71% said it would adversely affect the number of GPs. 
The report shows that over half of practice mangers, 54%, also believed the number of other primary care staff working in the NHS will be negatively impacted by Brexit.
However, compared to GP and nursing numbers a higher percentage, 22%, did not think Brexit would have any effect. The percentage who had faith in the positive effect remained marginal, at 1.9%.
Medicine shortages
The report also revealed that 56% of practice managers believed Brexit would have an adverse effect on the availability of drugs. Nearly a third, 29%, said they were ‘unsure’.
When the survey was conducted at the end of 2018, the UK had already begun experiencing a decline in certain medications.
In October 2018 it was reported that 45 drugs had become so scarce that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) resorted to paying more money for them to improve supply. By January this year, there were 80 medicines on that list.
Nearly half of practice managers, 49%, were of the opinion that Brexit will lead community pharmacists to stockpile medicines.  
Budget concerns
Just under half of practice mangers, 44%, thought Brexit would have a negative impact on the NHS budget, while 20% felt it will have no impact and 30% were unsure of the effect.
Since the survey was carried out at the end of 2018, uncertainty over Brexit has of course continued, with new reports and developments on a daily basis.
Co-chair of the Practice Management Network Steve Williams said: ‘Until the actual process has been agreed, we will have to depend on the NHS making certain provisions regarding what may happen.  
‘However, it goes without saying that the social fallout with regard to Brexit is clearly having an impact on individuals.’