Staffing and wellbeing are the ‘most pressing’ concerns over Brexit-related immigration rules among NHS staff in operational roles, a Nuffield Trust report has shown.
The report – which is based on analysis of data and 20 interviews with stakeholders in the health sector and government – said the NHS staffing plan has been ‘delayed by well over a year’ .
He also suggested it is currently ‘unclear’ what plans are in place to promote the UK as an attractive place to work.
Released on Monday, the report comes almost a year after new immigration rules were put in place as the UK left the single market on January 1, 2021, having officially left the EU a year earlier.
The new rules still allow EU doctors and nurses to be recruited, but with bureaucratic hurdles and “significantly increased” costs, he said.
This included placing applicants from the European Economic Area (EEA) on the same footing as those from the rest of the world.
The Nuffield Trust said ‘the welfare situation, where the new immigration rules effectively stop immigration from the EEA, appears to be rapidly deteriorating’.
The results indicate that staff turnover this year was 28.4%, which represents an increase of approximately 8% from 2012-2013, with a decrease of 2% in 2020-21.
Similarly, the number of EEE-trained nurses in the NMC has steadily decreased between September 2016 and March 2022.
The authors called for “more decisive action” to address the worsening labor problem.
The Nuffield Trust added that the government “must address the lack of transparency” in order to provide more clarity on the workforce through the “provision of better data”.
It comes a month after MPs voted against amending the Health and Care Bill to grant greater transparency about NHS staffing.
The report also found that NHS staff had noted an increase in hate crime and discrimination, with some linking this to Brexit.
The report says there is “little relevant data” at the individual level to support this.
The authors noted that while the NHS staff survey shows more black and minority ethnic staff reporting discrimination, the survey divides staff by ethnic identification rather than national origin.
Most AEE employees “would identify as white non-British”, he said.
Thorough polling and qualitative work would be needed to “determine whether the significance of Brexit as a political and social issue is implicated” in these trends, he said.
A report published last month found that inequalities among NHS staff are “worsening”.
Recent data from NHS England indicates that one in 10 black and ethnic minority staff at the CCG personally experienced discrimination from a manager or other colleagues between 2017 and 2019.
A version of this story originally appeared on Nursing in practice sister post Responsible for health.