NHS 'may struggle' without more non-UK staff

A number of medical organisation have warned that the crisis in health service recruitment is threatened by Brexit and faces the risk of getting worse without overseas staff.

After the Royal College of Emergency Medicine warned that the falling value of the pound made the UK less attractive, the Welsh NHS Confederation has emphasised how ‘significant’ overseas recruitment was and warned against it being restricted.

There is an existing struggle to meet growing demand for health care in Wales, meaning that the health and social care systems will ‘struggle to function’ without more non-UK staff being hired.

The Welsh NHS Confederation, which represents the health boards and trusts, stressed that the NHS across the UK was ‘heavily reliant’ on EU and other overseas workers, with 30 per cent of NHS doctors in Wales coming from abroad, and 35 per cent of doctors having qualified outside of the UK.

The group highlights the potential for certain services to become ‘unsustainable’ post-Brexit, with recruitment difficulties becoming ‘compounded’.

A statement said: “Our reliance on EU workforce has increased in the last few years, probably due to tightening of UK immigration policy on non-EU workers. The priority after Brexit should be to ensure that the UK can continue to recruit and retain much needed health and social care staff from the EU and beyond, while increasing the domestic supply, through robust workforce planning.”

According to the Wales Deanery, responsible for medical training, two-thirds of Welsh medical students currently stay in Wales after qualifying. But the Deanery did emphasis that Wales could suffer as the NHS in England attempts replace overseas doctors with UK citizens.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Wales estimate that growing demand will mean that Wales will need at least 100 emergency medicine consultants within the next six years.

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