Over fifty per cent of EU/EEA nationals working in NHS Wales earn under the UK Government’s proposed £30,000 salary threshold for immigration.
The Welsh NHS Confederation has today published a response to the UK Government’s Immigration White Paper which reveals 53%* of EU/EEA nationals currently working in NHS Wales earn below the £30,000pa salary threshold proposed within the UK Government.
The report highlights many jobs in health and social care do not fulfil the proposed requirements for the minimum skills or salary levels set by the UK Government as part of the skilled worker route.
The UK Government’s proposals will apply to all non-UK nationals once free movement ends and have prompted fears of a skills gap in the health and social care system in Wales.
The NHS in Wales employs nearly 95,000 people and around 2% (1,623) of the current workforce is made up of EU/EEA Nationals.
However, EU/EEA nationals work in essential areas where there is already a shortage of staff.
Some of the specialty professions impacted the most by this salary cap are Nurses and Midwifes, Psychologists, Chiropodists, Healthcare Scientists, Speech and Language and Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Orthoptists, Radiographers and Pharmacists.
It is estimated that between 97% and 100% of EU/EEA nationals within these professions will not meet the proposed salary threshold.
There will also be large impacts for social care providers, as many positions are unlikely to meet the necessary salary or skills level. This will greatly impact the ability of social care providers to supply essential services, which will have a knock-on impact on the NHS in Wales.
The response to the White Paper also highlights an increasing concern around freedom of movement ending as a result of a no-deal Brexit the day after October 31st.
Nesta Lloyd-Jones, Assistant Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation said: “The UK Governments proposed salary cap is causing concern across health and social care in Wales around future recruitment.
“If these proposals were already in place, nearly 900** professionals working in the health service would not fulfil the UK Government’s requirements. It’s true to say we may find benefits in the future around producing more homegrown health professionals, but this training takes time. The current proposals threaten to create a skills gap and may increase the pressure on an already stretched workforce.
“Health and social services in Wales need a fair immigration system which reflects our need to recruit from around the world in order to fill the vacancies in the system.
“The NHS in Wales values the contribution EU/EEA nationals and staff members from around the world make to our health and social care system, not just because of the vital expertise they provide, but the value they add to our communities.”