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Brexit: Government immigration policies ‘devastating’ for health and social care, law firm warns

Brexit: Government immigration policies ‘devastating’ for health and social care, law firm warns
By Léa Legraien Reporter
20 December 2018

Government immigration policies post Brexit will have a ‘devastating’ impact on health and social care, a law firm has warned.

Royds Withy King criticised the new Government white paper on post-Brexit immigration rules, which the law firm believes will worsen the current health and social care recruitment crisis.

It comes as home secretary Sajid Javid announced yesterday a new immigration system for overseas workers coming to the UK after 2021.

Skilled-workers prioritised

Under the proposals, the Government will prioritise skilled workers who want to work in the UK over low-skilled and unskilled migrants.

The Government said the measures could still allow low-skilled workers to remain in the UK for up to a year, while skilled-workers could remain for five years.

The Government proposes to widen the scope of the £30,000 salary threshold for skilled worker visas that is currently in place for non-EU workers to also apply to EU migrants after Britain leaves the European Union.

Royds Withy King solicitors said that the measures fail to address the current recruitment crisis in health and social care and ‘severely limits the ability’ of providers to recruit EU low-skilled care workers post Brexit.

Helen Murphie, immigration specialist and health and social care team partner at the law firm, said: ‘The Government hasn’t listened to care providers who fear that placing restrictions on recruiting workers from the EU will exacerbate the staffing crisis.

‘Measures to […] introduce a short term visa for the low skilled are unlikely to assist care providers in any meaningful way because in both cases they are time restricted and offer little incentive for people from overseas to leave their home countries to work in the UK.’

The workforce charity Skills for Care estimates that there are currently around 110,000 vacancies in adult social care. This compares to 100,000 unfilled posts across the NHS, according to NHS Improvement.

‘Extreme concerns’

Last month, healthcare think tanks The King’s Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundations predicted that there could be between 250,000 and 350,000 vacant NHS posts by 2030, if current staffing trends continue.

Cavendish Coalition co-convenors Danny Mortimer, Nadra Ahmed and Sara Gorton said they are ‘extremely concerned’ about the Government’s immigration policy plans, as NHS and social care staff ‘don’t command high pay but are hugely skilled and provide vital services’ to patients.

They said: ‘While it’s anticipated there may be some provisions for doctors and nurses coming to the UK after Brexit, this ignores physios, paramedics and other allied health professionals and there will be severe implications for the social care workforce in particular as well as outstanding concerns on doctor and nurse recruitment.

‘The sector relies on lower paid – but hugely skilled – colleagues whose availability would be effectively cut off by a proposed salary threshold of £30,000 and with no special allowance like that recommended for seasonal agricultural workers.’

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