Ewa, my Polish friend, is a highly skilled geriatric nurse, who has worked for the NHS for 6 years. We met in a café, shared a table, started talking, discovered that we were both going, by coincidence, to see the Eagles playing live. We go to shops and have coffee from time to time.
Ewa, who is only 36, used to joke that she would take care of me when I became really old and dotty. Neither of us is laughing anymore.
Just before Christmas, she decided to move to a job in France. This was not the original plan. "I love London," Ewa said. "My patients also. But some of them now tell me they do not want me to help them. Because I am Polish I must go back home. It makes me very sad. Not good."
Black and Asian Britons, including those born here, are feeling the burn of rejection and racism too. I can't remember a time when I had such a flood of nasty, bigoted messages sent to me. To the senders, I am an unwanted migrant and a 'treacherous' Remainer. Unlike Ewa, I can't and won't leave. Someday, I hope, sanity, rationality and tolerance prevail. How did we get to be like this?
Think about it. The NHS is going through its biggest crises. We have an ageing population and the demand for good healthcare isn't being met. Staff can't cope, and yet committed, skilled professionals like Ewa are no longer welcome.
Damned hard Brexiters and immigration paranoids have won. Foreigners out. Millions of Brits will settle for nothing less, even if that leads to grief and misery at home and in hospitals. It's about as dystopian as it gets.
Two weeks back I was on with Nigel Farage on the Wright Stuff, the lively programme on which he declared he felt compelled to back a second referendum. When I said Brexit had led to an exodus of nurses, he swatted the words away as if they were flies on his tailored jacket.
Admittedly there are other reasons for nurse shortages. Not enough young people are going into the profession, the pay and conditions do not attract applicants, retention is a serious problem and resourcing has been inadequate for the longest time.
However, there is a demonstrable connection between new draconian immigration rules and the lack of nurses and doctors too. Deniers are like flat-Earthers. They believe what they want to believe. In this post-truth age, information is no match for perceptions and prejudices.
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) warned last March: "The government is turning off the supply of qualified nurses from around the world at the very moment the health service is in a staffing crisis like never before." Experts eh, what do they bloody know?
Another year, more dire warnings from the RCN and General Medical Council. More nurses are leaving than joining the profession. The number of quitters would staff more than 20 medium sized hospitals.
At the moment, there is an acute and immediate need for around 40,000 nurses and also highly qualified medical specialists. Around 55,000 EU nationals work in the NHS as doctors and nurses. Since 2017, there has been a 96% drop in EU nurses registering. And by last November, one in five EU doctors had started to make plans to relocate.
The number of nurses and doctors from outside the EU is also dropping, partly because of insufferable immigration procedures and partly because Britain is seen as hostile and unwelcoming to incomers. When I was in India last year, I met newly qualified doctors who said they would never apply to work in the UK because it is "racialist".
It seems as if the Home Office has decided to mollify those who blame immigrants for all ills, and its stated departmental objectives now are to make Britain as uncomfortable as possible for all new migrants.
Amber Rudd needs to be questioned about the impact these policies are having on the health of the nation. Come to think of it, why hasn't she been made to answer these questions already?
An awful lot of blame was hurled at the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over the past weeks when patients were left untreated and unattended in A&E departments. Some of this was deserved. Funding needs to be increased substantially. But more money cannot magic up new doctors and nurses.
Even if cash was found to pay for new medical and nursing trainees, they won't come through properly for a decade. To meet current needs, doctors and nurses have to be found from other countries.
There is no other way. Unless the Home Office, right wing press and politicians, and the cowardly Labour lot too, become positively pro-immigration when it comes to health personnel, they will condemn millions to untold suffering. Such a crime against their own people should never be forgiven.