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Creating a skills gap crisis – how Brexit is affecting staffing in the healthcare sector

13th September 2019 | Jonathan Duffield

Creating a skills gap crisis – how Brexit is affecting staffing in the healthcare sector

Brexit quivers on the horizon as Britain inches closer and closer to the deadline. All the while, the healthcare sector is looking on in strained, underfunded and - crucially - understaffed, concern.

We are all aware of the fact that the run-up to Brexit has been taking a considerable toll upon the healthcare sector, but this would be put into sharp relief when compared with the repercussions of the reality of leaving the EU should Brexit take place. 

How Brexit has affected the healthcare sector so far

The NHS has historically suffered with financial and staffing troubles; however, these issues are at an all-time high presently with The King’s Fund revealing that there are “…nearly 100,000 vacancies in English NHS trusts and a further 110,000 in social care.” 

A proportion of this discrepancy in vacancies could be directly attributed to the Brexit referendum as “The Office for National Statistics (ONS)… recently reported that we saw a drop of 132,000 citizens from other European Union countries working in Britain since the Referendum,”

This is a number that would likely only increase following a no-deal scenario. Looking at these emigration figures side-by-side with a worryingly high number of NHS vacancies depicts a concerning correlation that hints at further talent management issues to come post-Brexit for the healthcare industry as a whole. 

How Brexit will affect staffing in the industry post-leave

Leaving the European Union will bring with it huge changes affecting freedom of movement, immigration quotas, and the residency rights of more recent EU migrants. 

This restriction and expulsion of migrants means that the number of talented professionals who have previously flooded from the EU into the healthcare sector could be significantly reduced. This will, in turn, narrow the already draining pool of talent to choose from in the healthcare sector, and worsen the current shortage of staff throughout the industry in the UK. 

The King’s Fund concluded that “With 116,000 EU nationals working in healthcare and 104,000 in social care, even a small trend towards European migrants leaving the United Kingdom due to a fall in the pound or uncertainty around being granted settled status will worsen this situation…A British Medical Association survey of doctors from the European Union has found nearly a third would consider leaving the country.” 

This would spell disaster for an already struggling NHS, causing a skills-gap vacuum that would be a challenge to fill without a flow of professional healthcare staff from the EU. 

Former GSK’s Chief Immunologist and Sitryx and Levicept board member Dr Paul-Peter Tak commented that “…our data suggests that… NHS nursing vacancies will be more than 50,000 by the end (of) 2021… This is based on the report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research” and further adds that “…the healthcare sector is deeply dependant on healthcare professionals from the EU and the rest of the world.” 

All insights point to a staffing crisis just around the corner for the healthcare sector in the UK – however, the blow can be softened by utilising talent management. 

How you can use talent management to combat the skills-gap in the healthcare sector

The looming staffing crisis in the UK healthcare system makes it more crucial than ever that healthcare organisations have a viable talent management strategy in place. 

Whether it’s conducting an internal skills gap analysis, investing in further training and development, or investing in other methods that will bring areas of improvement to your attention. The right talent management strategy can help place your business in a far stronger position to take on the challenges that will follow Brexit. 

Goodall Brazier has an international reputation for a peerless talent management service. Our specialist recruiters are experts in their respective fields, meaning that placements through us result in real organisational improvement and progress. 

We deal with talent management in the healthcare sector all the way through from community level to corporate leadership, meaning that wherever your recruitment is lacking, we’re here to help you find the right talent to fill the place.