Brexit and the Health and Social Care Workforce in the UK, a report published today for the Cavendish Coalition, looks at recent trends in the UK’s health and socialcare workforce and the critical role of European economic area (EEA) nationals within it. Anna Tobin examines its findings
The report, produced by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) for the Cavendish Coalition – a group of health and social care organisations committed to providing the best care to communities, patients and residents – gives an overview of the health and social care workforce across the UK and considers the training and supply of future health workers.
Its key findings give cause for concern:
- Over 5% of UK nursing staff, around 9% of doctors, 16% of dentists and 5% of allied health professionals are from inside the EEA and the patterns of their numbers and their composition by occupation and geography has changed rapidly since the referendum.
- EEA nationals make a particularly large contribution to social care services. In 2016, EEA nationals made up 5.4% of the workforce, but in absolute terms, their number grew by 68%, or 30,600 individuals, since 2011.
- By assessing the pattern of leavers and joiners to the NHS over the year up to June 2016 and the year post-June 2016, the NIESR was able to estimate what might happen to the overall numbers of doctors and nurses going forward. Its model suggests that in the short run, the UK may have an additional shortage of around 2,700 nurses. Projecting this shortfall over the remaining period of Brexit transition to 2021, it suggests that there may be a shortfall of around 5,000-10,000 nurses, in addition to existing vacancies.
- EEA nationals are now more likely to work in specialties and locations with weak domestic supply. EEA doctors are well-represented in shortage specialties and there are regional differences in the reliance on EU nationals.
- Waiting times were found to increase in NHS Trusts that are losing EEA workers, particularly nurses. In regards to this the report states: “While inference based on statistical data is subject to caveats, it is reasonable to suggest that if hospital staff is turning over more quickly, then we would expect that patient outcomes deteriorate.”
The full report can be accessed here