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Losing London: Where Brexit Hurts: The Nurses and Doctors Leaving London

“I wonder,” she said. “Will it go back to that?”

There are still more Europeans migrating into Britain than leaving. But, as in the N.H.S., arrivals are slowing and departures accelerating, said Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, especially among Eastern Europeans like Ms. Cunderlikova.

The day before the Brexit referendum, feeling anxious and powerless because he was not allowed to vote, Dr. Noël did something he had never done before: He placed a bet.

Dr. Noël wagered £200 on Brexit. “That way, I thought, if it actually happens, at least there is one positive thing in it,” he said. To his dismay, he won. The £1,500 he made would roughly cover the fee for a British passport. But Dr. Noël is in no mood to become British — at least not now.

“I feel very strongly European,” he said.

He grew up as an Anglophile in the Jura region of France, near the German border, in a family badly scarred by two world wars. When he was 5, he paraded across the local market, pretending to speak English. At 30, he fell in love with a British student who had come to France on the Erasmus program, the European Union’s university exchange scheme. Twelve years ago, they moved to Britain and Dr. Noël instantly felt “at home.”

But now, when he works outside London in places where people voted for Brexit, resentment rises in his throat.

“I’ve had very torn feelings about helping people who expressed the wish to get rid of us,” Dr. Noël said.

“Psychologically Brexit has had a huge impact,” he said. “You feel rejected as a group.”

He talks about the “five stages of Brexit.”

First there was shock, he said. Then there was denial. (“Don’t worry,” he would tell the young nurses from Portugal and Spain in his department who fretted in the months after the vote. “Nothing is going to change.”) Eventually, Dr. Noël reached the anger stage, following a cascade of nasty news reports: about a government request for companies to compile lists of foreign nationals (later retracted); about a man being stabbed for speaking Polish; about a Finnish professor who, along with scores of other Europeans, was served a deportation notice.

The notice was a bureaucratic mistake. “But after Brexit, such mistakes are not easily forgotten,” Dr. Noël said.

If the N.H.S. has consistently managed to produce health outcomes comparable to countries with vastly more resources — like France, which has a similar population but more than twice the number of hospital beds — it is in large part because of the people, said Dr. Noël, who has worked in both systems.

“The N.H.S. is an incredibly resilient system,” he said. “People are so dedicated. When the system is squeezed, they work even harder.”

But Brexit has made many European employees reconsider. If anger was the third stage of Brexit, and depression was the fourth, Dr. Noël said he had now reached the final stage, acceptance.

For him, that means leaving Britain early next year. He has a new job at a hospital in Dubai.

Source: NYT > World

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