I congratulate Tracy Brabin on securing this debate and on highlighting the biggest challenge facing the NHS: the creeping workforce crisis that has been evolving for some time now. We are now seeing that crisis beginning, in real terms, to affect patient care.
The hon. Lady was right to highlight the fact that a lack of staff in some parts of the country means that operations are being cancelled and beds are being closed. She was also right to point out the challenges that Brexit poses to the recruitment and retention of frontline NHS staff; in the past decade, we have been increasingly reliant on European Union staff coming to work in the UK—before that, it was staff from outside the EU who provided most of the overseas workforce in the NHS. I am sure that all of us would like to put on the record our support for the excellent work that NHS staff from the UK and from all over the world do in caring for patients.
I will also do what I should have done at the beginning of my speech and draw attention to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, as I am a practising NHS hospital doctor working in mental health services.