Labour Shadow Health Secretary Diane Abbott has warned the UK’s health and social care sector is facing “disaster” if Brexit ends the free movement of workers.
The Hackney MP told Labour’s party conference in Liverpool the NHS would collapse without the free movement of the 130,000 EU workers in the health service.
Ms Abbott said: “It is extremely foolhardy that ending access to EU markets is a price worth paying to end free movement.
“Instead of talking about restrictions on free movement, we should insist on assurances from the government on the legal status of these EU workers on whom our health and social care service depends.”
There are around 80,000 EU nationals currently working in the care sector in the UK.
A recent report estimated a potential shortfall of one million care workers in the UK over the next 20 years if Britain chooses a ‘hard exit’ from the EU (see Brexit threat to care workforce).
Ms Abbott said a Labour government would prioritise mental health services, repeal the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, and refuse to sign any future private finance initiative deal.
She added: “Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership the Labour Party will be committed to halting and reversing the tide of privatisation and marketisation of the NHS.
“The Health and Social Care Act has fragmented the system, making it so much easier for the private sector to move