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UK social care market at the mercy of politicians, Nuffield concludes

Brexit leaves UK social care recruitment at the mercy of market at the mercy politicians, says the Nuffield Trust in a report, The future for health after Brexit.

In the think-piece, the Nuffield Trust says that the UK has intensified its reliance on migration following Brexit as a source for both health and social care workers. Since the decision to leave the EU, more EU and UK staff have left than joined the social care workforce. There is also more reliance on ‘red list’ countries, judged by the World Health Organization to have too few trained clinicians of their own. The Trust states that one in five nurses trained outside the UK or EU who joined the UK register came from these countries in 2022/23. 

The report concludes that heavy reliance on migration without the underpinning of EU free movement of labour means a permanent risk of political choices suddenly affecting staffing availability. The recent decision to end the rights of social care workers to bring their dependants to the UK illustrates that the sector’s access to migration is subject to unpredictable change. 

Brexit also exacerbates global medicine shortages, as it has lowered the value of sterling and removed the UK from EU supply chains. In future, there is a risk of being left out of EU measures to mitigate shortages. These may include shifting medicine between member states, buying products jointly, and trying to bring manufacturing back to Europe.

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