Brexit: NHS ‘may struggle’ without more non-UK staff

Brexit threatens to make a crisis in health service recruitment worse; an assembly committee has been warned by a range of medical organisations. The Welsh NHS Confederation said overseas recruitment was “significant” and should not be restricted. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine warned that the falling value of the pound made the UK less attractive. It said the health and social care systems will “struggle to function” without more non-UK staff being hired.    The assembly’s health committee held a public consultation on the issue of NHS recruitment in 2016 and will take evidence from some of the interested parties involved on Thursday. In their written submissions, they highlight an existing struggle to meet growing demand for health care in Wales while trying to replace experienced staff heading for retirement, with particular problems recruiting for posts outside the cities. The Welsh NHS Confederation, which represents the health boards and trusts, called for long-term workforce planning to meet the nation’s health and social care needs.  It warned that the NHS across the UK was “heavily reliant” on EU and other overseas workers. Figures for March 2016 show 30% of NHS doctors in Wales came from abroad – 8% EU and 22% elsewhere. In terms of where they qualified, the figures rise to around 35% coming from outside the UK. The confederation claimed that following Brexit “some services may become unsustainable with the difficulties which health boards have recruiting potentially being compounded”. “Our reliance on EU workforce has increased in the last few years, probably due to tightening of UK immigration policy on non-EU workers,” it said.

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