As the Prime Minister formally begins the UK’s departure from the European Union with the triggering of Article 50 today, I felt it was important to acknowledge how this may make some of our colleagues feel and to try to provide reassurance to those who may feel worried about what it might mean and anxious about the future.
During this time of uncertainty it is difficult to predict what changes will follow our exit from the European Union. So let’s concentrate on what we do know. We know that around 1.2 million people work in the NHS. We know that people come from all over Europe and the world to work in our hospitals, GP practices, community care centres, nursing and care homes, pharmacies and in people’s homes. We know that without people coming from all over the globe to work in the NHS, we simply would not be able to provide the care and services hundreds of thousands of people rely on every day.
And for what I hope you all know. I hope you know that it doesn’t matter what country you call home because the NHS is one family. I hope you know that as the Chief Executive of a hospital, and as a son with elderly parents and a father with young children, I am grateful to you every day for the care you give at the hospital I am proud to run, and the services you provide to the people closest to me. I hope you know how valued you are when you come to work. I hope you know how thankful we are as patients that you are there to care, to talk to, to reach out a hand at times that can be some of the most difficult we will face.
I hope you never doubt for a second how important you are to our NHS family and to the families we will go home to tonight. I hope you know that you are more than welcome in the NHS - you are vital to it. You are vital to our health and care service and the fabric of our communities. As I have said before, I hope that whatever Brexit will mean, we continue to celebrate what brings us together and what makes our hospital and our health service great. That is, and will always be, each of you.