Arrangements must be put in place after Brexit to prioritise migration for European Union staff wanting to work in the NHS, a leading staffing agency has warned.
NHS recruiter HCL has sought to highlight the value of EU and non-EU overseas nursing staff ahead of Brexit, echoing recent statements from senior NHS figures and the health secretary.
“Arrangements must be put in place to prioritise migration for EU staff”
The firm’s chief executive, Stephen Burke, said: “The mix of and collaboration between British, EU and non-EU staff makes the NHS unique and must be protected.
Mr Burke pledged to “fight their corner as the UK negotiates its deal to leave the EU”.
“It is vital the status of migrant nurses currently working in the NHS is maintained after we leave the EU, and as part of the terms of exit, arrangements must be put in place to prioritise migration for EU staff wanting to work in the NHS,” he said.
He added: “HCL campaigned for non-EU nurses to be added to the [government’s] shortage occupation list and we have no hesitation in making the same case as part of any future arrangement following the UK’s exit from the EU.
“There remains a significant shortage of nursing staff across a range of professions in the NHS,” he said.
Mr Burke’s comments follow Nursing Times revealing that EU nurses were already starting to feel anxious about their immigration status and whether they remain welcome in the UK, while rumours of bullying were also emerging.
Last week, a report on the UK labour market also warned that the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit was likely to hit the health service’s pipeline of European Union nursing staff, potentially exacerbating the current shortage of nurses.
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HCL’s nursing division supplies qualified nurses, healthcare assistants and theatre nurses to the NHS and the private healthcare sector across the UK.