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House of Lords Library

Leaving the European Union: NHS and Social Care Workforce

Published Friday, November 18, 2016

This House of Lords Library briefing has been prepared in advance of a debate that is scheduled to take place in the House on 24 November 2016 on the implications of Brexit on the NHS and social care workforce.

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This briefing provides background information about this issue, including statistics on the numbers of citizens from other EU member states currently working in the NHS and social care. It examines a range of commentary and reaction to the result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union and the potential implications for staffing in the NHS and briefly examines the debate and recent developments on the issue of ‘safe’ staffing levels. It also notes the recent Government announcement on expanding the number of training places in UK medical schools to make the NHS more ‘self-sufficient’ in medical staff.

EU nationals currently comprise around 5 percent of both the staff in NHS trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups and of the social care workforce. To date there has been no change to the status of these staff, or their right to remain in the UK. However, a number of health organisations have called for explicit assurances that existing healthcare staff from the European Union will be able to stay in the country in the future, and that the UK health and social care sectors will continue to be able to recruit staff from the EU. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has stated her desire to “guarantee the position” of both EU migrants in the UK and UK migrants in other EU countries, but said that no issue should be taken off the table prior to the commencement of negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and EU.

Lords Library notes LLN-2016-0061

Author: Samuel White

Topics: EU law and treaties, Health services, Health staff and professions, Immigration

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House of Lords Library

The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.