EU vote: It's time to take a deep breath and concentrate on the potential

HCSA chair Claudia Paoloni calls for policy-makers to steady the ship and provide reassurance to EU NHS workers following the referendum result

Just days ago we watched the referendum coverage swing from mild complacency in anticipation of a remain vote, to a mixture of shock and panic at the Brexit result, prompting the Prime Minister to resign.

We have been inundated in days since with myriad political, business and individual commentaries.

As sections of society and business panic at the potential negative impact on their interests, there is a growing sense of confusion and fear in the general population.

Unfortunately, much of the campaign on all sides was negatively driven, creating uncertainty and volatility for households, on the streets and on economic markets.

Valued EU nationals working tirelessly in the UK within and outside the NHS are now left confused and some feel unwanted and unappreciated. That is a sad and unjustified sentiment.

To my mind this was not a unanimous Brexit vote, this was a referendum with a result which shows that 72 per cent of the population felt strongly enough to vote. Of those, 52 per cent wanted the government to regain control and put Britain first while 48 per cent valued the UK role within EU and the EU role within the UK.

That actually seems like a pretty balanced view if taken as a whole, and one that should be built on.

The current resignations and reshuffling in the UK and hostility from EU figures and between UK politicians are fuelling a sense of crisis.

If this crisis were confined to the four walls of my home, I would stop, check, breathe deeply and concentrate on the potential opportunities that the new situation could reveal.

We now need key EU leaders to regain their composure, as should our own political parties.

Members of the public of all nationalities need certainty that they will be able to forge a future in Britain.

Human nature will always tend to reject change with uncertainty in favour of the reassurance of a certain environment. We experience that constantly within the NHS.

But we cannot alter the result of the referendum, so now we should focus on the possibility that change can lead to transformation for improvement – and how we as hospital consultants and specialists are to influence that.

At the same time, let us also reassure our EU-born colleagues that they are welcome and valued and that there will always be a place for them in our NHS.