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06.12.19

Nuffield Trust: One in four hospital staff born outside of the UK

New statistics analysed by Nuffield Health show that people born outside the UK make up for almost a quarter of all staff working in hospitals and a fifth of all health and social care staff in the UK.

The figures come from the Office for National Statistics after looking at the number of staff born overseas. They truly show the effect immigration has had on the expansion of the health and care workforce over the last 20 years. This has allowed a true depiction to be given by counting everyone from abroad, even if they adopted UK nationality.

The key findings from the analysis include:

  • 19% of all workers in the health and social care workforce in 2018/19 were people born abroad, compared to 14% of the general population
  • Migrants make a particularly vital contribution to the hospital sector, with almost one in four, 23% of all hospital workers born outside the UK
  • Between 2009/10 and 2018/19 the health and social care workforce grew by 446,000 with 221,000 of these workers born overseas, accounting for 50% of the rise

The briefing looks at data split by EEA and non-EEA migration between 2000 to 2008 and 2009 to 2019. The researchers warn that if the influx of health and social are staff from the EU were to fall by half this would mean around 6,000 fewer net migrants each year, meaning the already struggling care services that have numerous vacancies would struggle to fill their workforce.

Policy Analyst at the Nuffield Trust, Mark Dayan, said: “This analysis reveals just how international the NHS truly is, and that without migration staffing shortages would be almost unimaginable.

“The Conservatives and Labour have made encouraging assurances to enable some foreign NHS staff to arrive after we leave the EU. But these pledges will fall flat if not matched with promises to recruit social care staff from abroad and expand to other vital NHS staff beyond hospital nurses and doctors too.

“With the NHS continuing to be a top priority for voters, restricting migration could backfire spectacularly given we already have dire shortages and more staff are desperately needed.”

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