NHS could be 51,000 nurses short post-Brexit

PUBLISHED: 00:01 06 November 2018

An endangered species

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Fresh concerns have been raised over a nursing shortfall post-Brexit after a new review found that Britain could be left an additional 10,000 nurses short.

In England, the latest nursing vacancy rate figure is 41,722.

A new report explores the trends in the health and social care sector's workforce, including the role of European nationals working for the NHS.

It estimates that in the short run, the UK may have an additional shortage of around 2,700 nurses.

And projecting this shortfall over the remaining period of Brexit transition to 2021, there maybe a shortfall of 5,000 to 10,000 nurses, according to the authors of the report, which was commissioned by the Cavendish Coalition of 36 health and care charities.

The authors, from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, also warned that waiting times for patients tended to increase in NHS Trusts which are losing more European workers, particularly nurses.

"These startling figures should be taken extremely seriously by those negotiating our departure from the EU," said Danny Mortimer, co-convenor of the coalition and chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation.

"The health and social care sector is deeply reliant on talented colleagues from across Europe and the rest of the world so it is deeply disheartening to see these projected workforce gaps at a time of rising demand for services."

The report makes a series of recommendations including: a call for an "uncomplicated" immigration process, a review into workforce planning for the health and social care sector and a call for the Home Office to guarantee that its settled status programme for EU nationals will be honoured in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Commenting on the report, Nigel Edwards, chief executive at the health think tank the Nuffield Trust, said: "This is an extensive and credible report which should trouble everyone who cares about the future of health and care in the UK.

"Our own calculations have shown that with no further net migration or improvements domestically, social care could face a gap of up to 70,000 workers by 2025.

"The government's reported plan to stem all immigration of less qualified people after Brexit, and the repeated ducking of tough choices on social care, make this worst case scenario look worryingly plausible."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "We greatly value the contribution of nurses to the NHS and we hope those from the EU will take up the early opportunity to secure their future in the UK.

"There are 11,900 more nurses on our wards since 2010, 52,000 nurses currently in NHS training and we have made more funding available to increase university training places.

"Later this year, we will also set out plans to reform the adult social care system to make it sustainable for the future, including how better to attract and retain staff."

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