A CAMPAIGN which calls for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal says that the NHS in the south west has suffered a net loss of 163 EU midwifery and nursing staff.

“In the last two years, 745 nurses and midwives have quit the NHS in the South West, with only 582 joining,” said People's Vote. “That trend – if continued post Brexit – would have an impact on clinical posts as the NHS relies on trained staff from abroad to supplement UK trained staff such as nurses and midwives.”

However, the Daily Echo has discovered that overall staff numbers in the NHS south west region have actually RISEN in the time frame examined by the People’s Vote.

According to data published in the NHS Hospital and Community Health Service (HCHS) monthly workforce statistics, which refer to staff in trusts and clinical commissioning groups, staff numbers in the south west rose overall. Just five months after the referendum, in November 2016, staff numbers were at 96,097. They rose to to 97,316 in November 2017, the nearest date for which figures are published.

The number of professionally qualified clinical staff in the south west went up by more than 800 during the same timeframe, from 49,391 to 50,364.

The number of consultant numbers, which includes directors of public health, rose too, from 3,600 to 3,797.

On the full-time equivalent measure, which allows for a position being part-time or not, nurse numbers – which include health visitors – were up fractionally, from 20,969 to 20,981. There was a tiny fractional increase in midwife full-time equivalent numbers too, up from 1,650 to 1,662.

When the Daily Echo contacted the People’s Vote, a spokesman explained that it was warning that the number of EU staff were down already.

“The risk is that this will have a fundamental effect on the NHS if it continues as there are no guarantees that those staff who return to their countries of origin can be replaced by similarly trained staff from the UK,” he said. “The current Brexit situation causes unnecessary uncertainty for foreign staff working here, their families and for the NHS trusts who employ them.”