01935315031 | office@nursesgroup.co.uk

Brexit's impact on the NHS in the UK

A nursing staff helping a bedridden women who is physically disabled

Influence of Brexit on the United Kingdom's National Health Service

What is Brexit?

Brexit refers to the United Kingdom's (UK) exit from the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020.

Prior to Brexit

Even before Brexit, the UK National Health Service (NHS) was experiencing a shortage of healthcare workers. The ever-increasing number of care home vacancies, combined with the UK's ageing population, was bringing the sector to its knees, as many positions remained unfilled. As a result, the government should relax restrictions on hiring skilled workers, allowing them to enter the UK quickly if their services are required. The ongoing crisis has also highlighted the fact that Britain is not producing enough or inspiring a large proportion of its workforce to work in the care sector. People's perceptions of low wages and long hours are not encouraging them to apply for the many open positions. As a result, it is clear that these positions must be filled by qualified immigrants, whether from the EU or elsewhere.

Brexit's impact on the NHS in the UK

The already precarious social care workforce has taken another hit as a result of the Brexit scenario. Since the June 2016 referendum, there has been a significant decrease in the number of applicants from EU countries applying for care jobs in the UK. This is primarily due to ongoing scepticism about free movement and long-term job prospects in the UK. The number of people who want to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register has gone down because fewer nurses who want to move to the UK permanently are optimistic about their futures.
To make matters worse, by the end of 2019, the deadly COVID-19 pandemic outbreak had begun to put the already-struggling health system and NHS in jeopardy. Since COVID-19, hospital admissions of patients with life-threatening illnesses have reached new highs, resulting in a dramatic increase in patient acuity levels that has impacted everyone working in the NHS. Because of this, the government warned that the NHS was in danger of becoming too busy.
According to research, 130,000 new healthcare workers are needed each year just to keep the social care workforce afloat. Meanwhile, the UK's ageing population is expected to reach 14.5 million by 2035, a 44% increase from 2017. By 2035, there will need to be an extra 7 lakh jobs in care for adults to meet this growing need.

Measures taken by the UK Government

The NHS relies heavily on foreign workers, the vast majority of whom are from the EU, and when they leave, the NHS loses talent and skills. To address the staff shortage, the government issued the NHS Long Term Plan, which aims to recruit more nursing staff within five years. However, this is insufficient to meet the growing demand for healthcare personnel. Many nursing and other healthcare professionals who worked in the NHS during the pandemic reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and exhaustion. This is most likely due to an increase in the number of critically ill patients, which has revealed a shortage of nurses. Furthermore, many people have expressed concerns about patient and staff safety.
To combat this, the UK government launched the Bringing Back Staff scheme, which aimed to increase staff levels by re-hiring ex-NHS nurses and other nursing professionals. However, this scheme is ineffective because, with COIVD-19 in place, the number of nurses returning to work is lower.

New ways of working

As a result, moving forward, the UK government must address and improve nurse recruitment by paying fair wages to prevent employees from quitting their jobs. Measures such as denying pay raises to nurses, offering EU citizens up to £3000 to leave the UK, and, more recently, proposing a 1% pay increase to some NHS employees are ineffective in preventing an even worse staffing crisis.
Staff retention and effective recruitment are thus the two most pressing challenges that the NHS currently faces; unless these two issues are addressed, the UK healthcare industry will continue to suffer from a staff shortage crisis. The UK government must act quickly to ensure an integrated and cohesive society that continues to welcome migrants after Brexit and recognises the contributions they make to UK society.
The Nurses Group is also concerned about the Brexit scenario, given the UK's growing elderly population, a shortage of healthcare workers, and the increased workload that may fall on current nursing staff. As a result, the lives of nursing staff and elderly people in need of healthcare will be jeopardized.

Like our service? Subscribe us