Following the recent publication of data showing that in 2018 there are 3,000 fewer nurses from the European Economic Area working in the NHS than a year ago, specialist healthcare recruiters have voiced their immediate concerns.
The official figures by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) show that a total of 3,962 staff from the European Economic Area (EEA) left the NMC register between 2017 and 2018, while the number of EU nurses coming to work in Britain fell to just 805 in 2017-18. The previous year that figure stood at 6,382.
Commenting on the latest data, Michael Johnson-Ellis, managing director of Healthier Recruitment, said: “As an organisation which is on the front line of recruitment into the NHS we are already witnessing chronic talent shortages. Many of the organisations that we work with have already found that sourcing the appropriate number of staff, with the correct skills mix, is becoming increasingly challenging, particularly with regards to permanent recruitment. With this in mind, these latest figures do cause concern … However, while more certainty in this area should have a positive impact on the retention and attraction of EU talent long-term, many clients are reporting more immediate concerns around staffing.
“Until we find a way to reverse the talent dearth that the UK’s healthcare sector is currently facing, organisations which are struggling with staffing must concentrate on implementing strategic workforce planning strategies to maximise available resources to maintain patient safety levels.”
And according to Remedium Partners, prompt government action from the new Home Secretary on immigration rules that hamper NHS Trusts’ ability to recruit overseas doctors is vital to avoid further shortages.
David Green, co-founder and director of Remedium Partners, also commented:
“… Increasing numbers of overseas doctors are being prevented from starting work due to Tier 2 visas caps being reached. Consequently, we would like to see reform of the current visa system to include a much larger number of specialisms under the shortage occupation list.
“Under the current regime, specialities such as Acute and General Medicine – which include Gastroenterology, Geriatric, Respiratory and Stroke – are not defined as shortage occupations. However, doctors in these fields are in just as short supply – if not more so – as those that fall under the recognised shortage occupation lists like A&E, Radiology and Paediatrics. Prompt government reform will not only help alleviate immediate staffing shortages, but it will also help Trusts with long term workforce planning strategies to ensure they have the talent they need to contend with future pressures such as the annual winter crisis and the UK’s rapidly ageing population.
“As a consultancy which solely focuses on sourcing permanent overseas doctors we are urging the government to do as much as possible to support this highly skilled talent pool access the NHS at a time when the number of UK medical students is rapidly decreasing.”