The referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU was one of the most divisive moments in modern history — back in 2016 and ever since then, the country felt more polarised than ever before with a clearly growing sense of “us” and “them”. People were either unable to or would refuse to see some of the good points that the other side was making. The Remain side was branded “Project Fear” as they were providing predictions of what would happen. Some of these didn’t happen, but others, unfortunately, such as the slump in GDP and the exodus of European professionals came to pass. Gianluca Urdiroz, an image-maker and researcher currently based in London documents the decline of European health professionals in the UK. He has a BA in Commercial Photography from the Arts University Bournemouth and an MA in Documentary Photography from the University of Westminster.
Urdiroz’s body of work Missed Care is a poignant reminder that the National Health Service (NHS) should never be taken for granted. Once branded as the number one in the world, it has now slipped to number four, partially due to Covid, of course, but mainly because of the consequences Brexit and its complications had on employment.
In July 2016, there were 1,304 European nurses registered to work in the UK. By April 2017, this number had dropped to 46.
During the first 12 months afer the EU referendum, the number of people who left the NHS workforce increased by 15.3%, while applications fell on a 17%. This project is a small collection of different European workers of the British Health & Care system, in attempt to listen to their opinions and concerns regarding the future of Brexit.
The photographs in the project depict nurses, doctors, cleaners, lab technicians and other healthcare professionals in their work uniforms. Their expressions vary from one to another but the sense of despondency and burnout is palpable. These are people who have been battling a world pandemic while also trying to provide decent and high-quality care to people suffering from other illnesses, which haven’t gone away.
The people we see here, however, also have to battle the stigma and prejudice that was unleashed towards European citizens during and after the EU referendum, as if their workload and job character wasn’t hard enough. The images are full of compassion and a sense of appreciation to the key workers — no matter whether they are doctors or nurses — without whom we would be unable to live our lives as we know them.
— foreword by Zak R. Dimitrov