There is a very real risk that leaving the EU without an agreement could exacerbate the workforce crisis in health care.
With nearly 100,000 vacancies in English NHS Trusts and a further 110,000 in social care, patient care will be compromised.
Currently the NHS need an additional 5000 internationally recruited nurses each year to stop the situation worsening.
A migration system which impeded this would have serious implications even if the current staff are persuaded to stay.
Ninety percent of staff would not qualify for a permanent visa due to restrictions of high salary set up as one of the requirements.
Over 116,000 EU nationals work in healthcare and 104,000 in social care. Even a small percentage of EU migrants leaving the UK
due to unsettled status will worsen the situation. Lack of clarity about the deadline for settled status applications and the proportion
of EU nationals yet to apply are a huge concern.
British Medical Association survey of doctors found that nearly a third of EU doctors would consider leaving the country.
We are all experiencing uncertainties and apprehension about our future post Brexit. There are too many unanswered questions.
The reality is that our healthcare sector relies on the workforce that has many overseas doctors, nurses and others. The uncertainty
facing the status of EU doctors, nurses, carers and other health workers now and in the future, could undermine the ability
to retain and attract the best workforce for patients. EU Doctors and nurses who qualified in their respective countries
are allowed to practice in the UK without the necessity to obtain further training or upgrades. The current situation plays
in everyone’s mind and may adversely affect the healthcare sector. Freedom of movement has enabled many health and
social care professionals from EU/EEA countries to study and work in the UK. They provide valuable contribution to our
health and social care systems which are already under immense pressure due to rising demand and limited resources.
A No deal Brexit will also affect doctors working in private sector
Health care workers in research, occupational health and public health, pharmaceutical and private practice will also
be affected by a No deal Brexit due to restrictions in freedom of movement. One of the problems is that there is continuing
uncertainty over future immigration rules.
The rules may not be favourable for their children and other family members therefore causing disruptions
and inconveniences. Employment contracts may not be favourable to their circumstances. Various
health care workers from the EU reiterate uncertainty about their future in the UK.
Healthcare Employers face more challenges in staff shortages and recruitment. The Royal College of Nursing has found
that nursing vacancy rates are increasing too. The social care system is also under strain. Workforce shortages in the
social care sector could mean that patients end up in Accident and Emergency departments or face delayed discharges
from hospitals due to lack of social care.
Is it true that under No deal, the UK would immediately be treated by the EU as a third country like other non-EU States?
If that is the case, what happens to our EU Health workers living in the UK?
No deal would mean the current reciprocal healthcare which is shared by the EU27 and UK would no longer apply.
Health insurance premiums may go up affecting UK citizens who need sufficient insurance cover for holidays or work
in the EU. Same issues will be experienced by EU nationals if they cannot freely access healthcare.
There are so many issues causing apprehension and instability for healthcare workers. Unfortunately we are all going
to be affected by the effects of a No deal Brexit one way or the other.
How do we offer reassurances to our EU friends, co-workers and families ?
How do we support them and help them deal with the unknown?
How do we encourage them to keep on working with us in the Nursing Homes, Clinics, NHS and Private hospitals,
GP surgeries, Walk in Centres, Social services, Home Care Services, Accident and Emergency departments, Mental
Healthcare departments, Disability sectors, Children’s services?
How do we tackle issues raised by UK nurses and Doctors regarding impending post Brexit staffing crisis? Are they not
going to get demotivated and find alternative careers when they are overworked?
As a specialist healthcare recruitment job board, we have great passion about adequate staffing levels as this improves
delivery of care. We all have to work together and come up with concrete solutions to safeguard EU nationals’ rights
to continue living and working in the UK healthcare sector. We have to emphasise the fact that not everyone can face the
challenges experienced by healthcare workers. Working unsocial hours including public holidays is not an option
for everyone. Working long hours without appropriate breaks is not easy. Working night shifts leaving
your children and family could be challenging and this is why we really have to acknowledge the roles played by
our EU co-workers and support them.