Cri­sis – what cri­sis? But leader says EU work­ers are vi­tal

Brexit in Buck­ing­hamshire pa­per looks at staffing in health and so­cial care

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - JASMINE RAPSON jasmine.rapson@trin­i­tymir­ Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

THERE is “no ev­i­dence” to sug­gest health and so­cial care in Bucks is fac­ing a “cri­sis” as the Brexit dead­line looms, ac­cord­ing to the leader of the county coun­cil.

Con­tin­ued staff short­ages across health and so­cial care is one of the key is­sues laid out in Bucks County Coun­cil’s (BCC) ‘Brexit in Buck­ing­hamshire’ re­port – which tack­les key prob­lems faced by the county as Bri­tain pre­pares to leave the EU next year.

The re­port states short­ages in health and so­cial care sec­tors “could de­te­ri­o­rate fur­ther” in the face of a “more re­stric­tive im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy post-Brexit”.

Hos­pi­tals are al­ready strug­gling with huge nurse short­ages as hun­dreds of va­can­cies re­main un­filled across the county – prompt­ing Bucks’ NHS Trust to pledge to tackle the grow­ing cri­sis ear­lier this year.

A to­tal of 20 per cent of staff at Bucks’ adult res­i­den­tial care homes, and 11 per cent at adult nurs­ing homes, are EU na­tion­als.

How­ever leader of BCC, coun­cil­lor Martin Tett, said while leav­ing the EU is a “risk”, he does not be­lieve there will be a cri­sis fol­low­ing Brexit.

He said: “Adult so­cial care re­lies very heav­ily on the work­force that cur­rently has a very high propen­sity to have peo­ple from over­seas come in.

“Not just from Europe, but we have a large num­ber of peo­ple from places like the Philip­pines and so on who come to the UK to work in the care in­dus­try and in­deed the NHS more gen­er­ally. So is there a high de­pen­dency? Yes there is.

“One of the things lo­cal gov­ern­ment is mak­ing very clear is that what­ever im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy re­places the EU’s im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, we need to take into ac­count the avail­abil­ity of staff over­seas to come in and man the health ser­vice, par­tic­u­larly so­cial care.

“I think gov­ern­ment would be ex­tremely un­wise not to take that into ac­count.

“Do I think there is go­ing to be a cri­sis? Per­son­ally, no I don’t. But it is a risk. And it is a risk that one has to flag up to gov­ern­ment.” The re­port adds “in­no­va­tive re­cruit­ment pack­ages”, in­clud­ing sub­sidised ac­com­mo­da­tion, and more in­vest­ment in “labour re­duc­ing tech­nol­ogy” are two op­tions that could tackle the is­sue.

Above – a nurse on duty: the Brexit in Buck­ing­hamshire re­port says staff short­ages in health and so­cial care could get worse if im­mi­gra­tion rules are tight­ened af­ter Bri­tain leaves the EU

County coun­cil leader: Martin Tett

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