Those breezy promises made by the leave campaign last year are starting to be tested by hard reality. One of those tests is how Hard Brexit is impacting on the level of midwifery in UK.
Our maternity services are drastically short staffed. Latest indications state that the NHS needs around 3'500 more midwives. So, let's consider how Brexit affects that.
In February (the last count) there were 1'385 midwives from other EU countries working in UK. If they were all to leave the shortfall would be close to 5'000. Services in some areas would be devastated.
The government has said that EU workers in the NHS make a "valuable contribution" and that "Securing their futures will be a priority" but it's not enough to just stamp the passports of those already here with a permit to remain and think that solves the problem because it doesn't.
The Royal College of Midwifery compared the numbers of those who come here to those who leave and found that in the year to September 2015, 250 midwives came in from EU states and 200 left. A net increase of 50. But if all we do is give the green light to stay to those who are already here that would not stop the overall numbers dwindling as some leave to go home.
This is not guesswork or speculation. It has already started. Between June and August last year (just after the referendum) only 102 midwives came here from EU countries. In March to May this year the number had slumped to 5. That is a drastic fall and amounts to less than one midwife arriving every fortnight.
This is the damage that Brexit is doing to our precious maternity services.
During the campaign, the Leave lobby told us that outside the EU, Britain would be free to pick and choose who we let into the country, and that we would select only the best. Unfortunately, it is those who have the skills who choose where they want to work, and UK is rapidly dropping down the list of places to come to. The "best" simply don't want to come here any more.
Midwifery in UK is an ageing profession. In the four years to September 2016 the number of midwives retiring increased by a quarter. They need to be replaced as we start cutting ourselves off from the inflow of midwives from the EU. There is a monumental crisis brewing.
Train more of our own, some say.... and we should... But from this Autumn the government intends to cancel the bursaries for student midwives, nurses and other healthcare students, replacing the bursaries with student loans. Add to this the fact that students will have to pay tuition fees, all that is happening is a deterrent to those who would otherwise wish to take this career path.
An extra £350 million a week would cover all the costs for sure, but we all know that that was a blatant lie by the Leave campaign that they repeated over and over and even plastered all over the side of their campaign bus. The simple fact is that the Leave campaign lied and enough suckers bought the lie to seal our doom. The £350 million a week won't be coming. It was never on the cards. Nobody can be in any doubt.
We are heading for a crisis in our medical services. Our politicians are telling us that they intend to pursue a Hard Brexit which will probably lead to no deal with the EU and leave us bereft of the skills we are increasingly in desperate need of - not just in midwifery but across the board.
I would love to see a second referendum, and with the whole Brexit process turning against UK at every turn who can say it won't happen..? But the bottom line is that those who work hard and make a contribution to our society should be allowed free movement, be they midwives or any other skilled professional.
Free movement has served us well and in my opinion it has to continue.
The Great Brexit Lie.