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The UK's tax on foreign nurses must be scrapped

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As the United Kingdom prepares to enter the peak phase of the coronavirus cases curve - the point at which it expects the largest number of critically ill patients at the same time - the country's National Health Service (NHS) is facing the greatest challenge in its 72-year history.

It is preparing to weather a perfect storm of lack of staff and critical care beds as emergency services and healthcare provision risk becoming overwhelmed by patients needing critical care because of the global pandemic.

The UK has fewer doctors and nurses serving its population than many countries in the developed world.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UK has only 2.8 doctors and 7.8 nurses per 1,000 people in the population, ranking it lower than Costa Rica, Russia and Hungary, but slightly above the US and Canada.

The average across the OECD's 36 countries was 3.5 doctors and 8.8 nurses. The UK has the second-lowest number of doctors in leading European nations relative to its population. Only Poland ranks lower.

This lack of staffing is compounded by the continuing brain drain of foreign workers from the NHS.

More than 22,000 European Union (EU) nationals have left the NHS since the country's referendum on leaving the EU in 2016.


© Al Jazeera

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