Foreign NHS workers must be given “reassurance” by the Government that they are still “welcome in this country”, Simon Stevens says today.
Mr Stevens says that Britain’s NHS relies on “committed health professionals from other countries”.
Setting out a post-Brexit blueprint for the health service, Mr Stevens also says that money should be diverted from hospitals to GP surgeries to help save the NHS.
He calls on Mrs May to use the EU referendum as an opportunity for “radical change” in the health service.
Urging the Government to focus resources on GPs rather than hospitals he says that “headlines about hospital deficits obscure the fact that over the past decade their share of funding has grown rapidly at the expense of primary care”.
And he warns that GP surgeries and hospitals across the country are “overcrowded and clapped-out” and calls on Mrs May to set up new infrastructure fund to replace buildings “buildings in need of a makeover if not a bulldozer”.
Following the Brexit vote, there have been repeated calls for the Government to guarantee the rights of EU citizens already living in the UK.
However, ministers have so far refused to do so unless there is a reciprocal guarantee to protect British citizens living on the continent.
Mr Stevens calls on Mrs May’s Government to give assurances “every international NHS employee”.
NHS figures for 2014 suggest 25 per cent of doctors are non-British, and 13.5 per cent of nurses – statistics which are still among the highest in Europe.
“As the largest employer in Europe, the health service needs to do a better job training and looking after our own staff,” he writes.
“New apprenticeships and ladders of opportunity for committed young people can help many of the left-behind communities most alienated from modern Britain.
“Even then we're still going to need committed health professionals from other countries. Australian-style immigration points systems all give thumbs-up to nurses, doctors and other skilled health professionals. So it should be completely uncontroversial to provide early reassurance to every international NHS employee about their continued welcome in this country.”
In his article, Mr Stevens also says that Mrs May’s new Government must “urgently” set out a child obesity strategy.
He writes: “Piling on the pounds around our children's waistlines is piling on billions of pounds in future NHS costs. We're now spending more as a nation on obesity than on the police and fire service combined. So we urgently need an activist child obesity strategy, including comprehensive action on food reformulation, promotions and advertising.”
He also says that ministers should expand the “triple lock” on the state pension to take in the cost of elderly care to ensure that A&E services are no longer “overwhelmed” by older patients.
The “triple lock” ensures that the state pension rises in line with whatever is highest out of wages increases, inflation or 2.5 per cent.
Mr Stevens urges Mrs May and Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, to focus on improving GP care in the years ahead.
“How NHS care is provided needs a major overhaul,” Mr Stevens says. “Access to GPs was a repeated public concern during the referendum campaign, alongside pressure on primary school places and affordable housing. We make 300 million visits to our GP practices each year, compared to fewer than 25 million A&E attendances.
“So if GP services fail the NHS fails. Yet headlines about hospital deficits obscure the fact that over the past decade their share of funding has grown rapidly at the expense of primary care, and hospital consultant numbers have expanded three times faster than GPs.”
He says that a new NHS infrastructure fund would “create optimism across the NHS, unleash major efficiencies, turbocharge the construction industry, and be welcomed in constituencies and communities right across the country”.
He writes: “Many patients arrive each day for their GP or hospital appointment in what are - can we speak frankly? – overcrowded and clapped-out buildings in need of a makeover, if not a bulldozer.
“Yet to help balance the books, the NHS is currently switching billions of pounds of capital investment into needed day-to-day running costs.”
A Government spokesman said: “NHS staff make a huge contribution to our country and Government has been clear that it fully expect the legal rights of EU nationals already in the UK will be properly protected.”
It came as the Government was accused of issuing "misleading" figures over its pledge to increase NHS funding.
MPs on the Commons Health Committee said the Government's claim that the NHS would receive £8.4 billion by 2020/21 actually translates into £4.5 billion because ministers used a different calculation compared with previous years.
They concluded that health spending "will not increase by as much as expected from official pronouncements", and the financial challenge faced by the health service is "colossal".