BREXIT could ‘threaten the delivery of safe care in the NHS’ with more nurses and doctors from the EU leaving their jobs in Dorset than ever, figures suggest.

Statistics released today reveal in the last full year before the referendum there were 19 EU nationals who left jobs at Poole Hospital, accounting for 4.5 per cent of all leavers, and 43 EU leavers from Royal Bournemouth Hospital, making up 8.4 per cent of the total leavers.

The following year EU nationals accounted for 7.1 per cent of leavers from Poole and 12.2 per cent of leavers from RBH.

However in the first six months of this year alone 28 EU workers have left Poole making up 10.6 per cent of all NHS workers with 44 EU staff from Royal Bournemouth Hospital leaving, accounting for 15.7 per cent of total leavers.

Sarah Zanoni, acting regional director of RCN South West said: “The RCN is aware that Brexit has had an impact in the region with some overseas staff choosing to leave the UK and others deciding not to come. Overseas staff have always played an important role in the NHS but our current staffing crisis means that retaining these individuals is more important than ever.

"The RCN has called for their status to be confirmed immediately.”

It comes after the King’s Fund has revealed a ‘worrying’ fall in the number of nurses working in the NHS. A 96 per cent reduction in the number of European nurses joining the UK register since the referendum has been a key factor in the fall, as well as an increasing number of EU staff leaving the NHS and changes to language testing requirements.

Richard Murray, director of policy at The King's Fund said: “Workforce planning has been neglected for too long in the NHS, and the fact that the EU referendum result appears to have tipped the balance highlights how fragile the workforce situation has become.”

Meanwhile the British Medical Association branded the figures ‘worrying’.

A spokesman said: “With the NHS already at breaking point any fall in doctor numbers would be concerning. It would lead to greater rota gaps, more pressure on existing staff and would affect the delivery of high-quality care.

“The BMA conducted a survey of EU doctors earlier this year which found that 42 per cent were considering leaving the UK following Brexit.

“Safe staffing levels are already a concern in many parts of the NHS so further reductions in staffing numbers could certainly threaten the delivery of safe care.”

Both Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Poole Hospital said they value the role all staff play and are supporting EU staff with regular drop-in sessions.

A Poole Hospital spokesman said: “Poole Hospital values the significant contribution that colleagues from the EU and elsewhere make to patient care and we would like to confirm our continued support to all our staff during the current Brexit negotiations.”