Tracie Jolliff, the head of inclusion and systems leadership at the Academy, looks at whether we can really risk losing EU talent to the BREXIT vote.
The NHS is going through a massive staffing crisis. Figures have shown that the workforce has shrunk by 70,000 members of staff compared to September 2015, dramatically lower than health ministers have predicted. With the demand for care increasing and the workforce already shrinking, Tracie Jolliff considers whether we can really risk losing the EU nationals who have chosen to share their talents with us.
As the country slowly comes to terms with the decision to leave the EU, the future for the NHS in a BREXIT era is still up in the air. With difficult times ahead, we need resilient, passionate leaders at the helm of our health service who can strategically look at challenges and tackle them head-on; ensuring patients remain the core focus. The ethnic origin of staff should be irrelevant, although the Workforce and Race Equality Standard (WRES) report tells us that we’re not quite there yet.
One of the biggest challenges is the uncertainty of EU nationals in the UK, whether perceived or real. Why would we risk making people who are contributing to the UK feel unwelcome to be here or uncertain about their future? We need to support these EU nationals who have chosen to share their talents with us, not alienate them.
There are over 55,000 EU nationals in our 1.3 million strong workforce. If EU nationals who work in the NHS do leave, what does this mean for those EU nationals who are patients? A health service which is already un-representative of the communities it serves will become even less so.
Inclusivity is really important in the health service. People in all roles must feel valued for the work they do regardless of their race or nationality. The publication of the Snowy White Peaks and the WRES reports highlight the huge problem that exists in this area. Ensuring our workforce represents the community it serves, along with nurturing diverse talent to ensure everyone becomes the best at what they do, is ultimately how good quality care will be delivered at the frontline.