Health and care recruiters endorse recommendations on recruiting post-Brexit

The UK’s next government needs to ensure health and social care providers can recruit and retain top talent from across the global post-Brexit, Parliament’s Health Committee has recommended.

In its report on the effect of Brexit on health and social care, published this morning, the committee made a number of recommendations with regards to future staffing requirements in the UK’s health sector.

They include:

• ensuring health and social care providers can retain and recruit the brightest and best from all parts of the globe and that the value of the contribution of lower-paid health and social care workers is recognised
• that government undertakes an audit to establish the extent of the NHS’s and adult social care’s dependence on both the EU and the wider international workforce in low-paid, non-clinical posts, as well as in clinical roles
• that government acknowledges the need for the system for recruiting staff to the NHS, social care and research post-Brexit to be streamlined to reduce both delays and cost, and sets out how this will be managed in future. 

The committee added its report was intended to be the first phase of its inquiry into how the health sector will be affected post-Brexit but added this has had to be cut short due to June’s general election.

Commenting on the report, Shan Saba, a director at Scottish recruiter Brightwork, whose health and social care team recruits across lower level of non-clinical staff across Scotland, said: “Our candidate workforce is around 50% non-UK nationals from the EU and non-EU countries.

“Over the last few years the care sector in Scotland would not have survived without these workers and we agree strongly with the Select Committee that the rights of these workers and the future of this sector is highly dependant on this form of labour.

“The government must take into consideration all levels of workers not just the highly skilled within the Brexit negotiations.”

Jonathan Wadsworth, managing director at social care staffing specialist CHA Recruitment, added: “What this report clearly and rightly points out is the devastating impact we could see on the social care sector if there should be post-Brexit restrictions on the right to work of EU nationals in the UK. 

“Adult social care roles are predominantly low paid and understaffed as it is, and yet the report makes clear that there are 90,000 EU nationals in these much needed positions who could potentially be at risk. If the government doesn’t take due consideration to this, any restrictions on the right to work of EU nationals post-Brexit would bring the care system to its knees.”

Claire Billenness, managing director at HCL Workforce, told Recruiter given current shortage of skilled clinicians in the health sector, her agency fully supports the committee’s recommendations.

“Anything that removes bureaucracy, speeds up and encourages the free movement of skilled healthcare workers globally has to be good news for our sector. We firmly believe Brexit presents the best opportunity to negotiate a sensible approach to the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and adopt more appropriate method to test relevant language, skills and knowledge competence. Regulation must not create barriers preventing the flow of skilled clinicians into a healthcare sector that is already struggling to meet the demands of the public.

“We strongly support the recommendation that due considerations are given to the private sector and not just the NHS – especially low paid, non-clinical roles in the care home market. The high dependency on EU workers and the unintended consequences of a restricted or reduced labour pool could have a devastating impact on a sector that is already struggling financially, as local authorities continue to negotiate lower prices for the care home places they finance.”

Billenness also said she fully supported the need for new primary legislation to reform the professional regulation of health and social care but added: “We would, however, like to see this extended to include the regulation of the health and social care agency staffing market to ensure value for money, and better and safer patient care.”

Meanwhile, Niall Dickson, CEO of the NHS Confederation and a member of the Cavendish Coalition – a coalition of health and social care organisations, said: "We rely on staff from Europe, who make a fantastic contribution to health and care services throughout the UK – indeed, we could not manage without them. It is therefore vital, as the committee argues, that we end the current uncertainty about their status, and the anxiety it is causing to them and their families, as well as employers.

"The committee is also right to call for a streamlined process for recruiting health and care staff from overseas, and to make clear that criteria should not just be about pay – it is about valuing public service and being able to recruit the staff we need to deliver safe, compassionate and high-quality care.

"Likewise, as we leave the EU, we need to sort out vital areas, such as medical research, public health and access to medicines. That is why the committee is right to put health ‘at the front and centre of the British negotiating priorities’.

"The committee has identified a range of issues that need to be resolved, some of which have not had the attention they deserve, such as the need for reciprocal healthcare arrangements for the thousands of UK citizens living in other EU countries and EU citizens living here."

• What are your views on this issue? Email us at [email protected] or tweet us below to tell us your thoughts. We will run comments online in a round-up at the end of the week.

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