EU staff in the NHS: what has happened since the referendum? There’s been an increase in the number of EU staff in the NHS since the referendum. The number of EU nationals joining NHS England rose in the years before the EU referendum and then dropped off in the years after. This means we should be careful of linking this sudden drop in EU staff joining the NHS directly to the referendum result. We don’t know what would have happened to EU staff numbers if there had never been an EU referendum, or if the UK had voted to remain.