Tim Hammond, CEO of Four Seasons Health Care, has joined care sector leaders calling on the government to protect the right of EU nationals to work in the UK following Brexit.
Mr Hammond’s plea followed a recent study by the Independent Age, the older people’s charity, and the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK) which warned that the UK care home sector could face a potential recruitment crisis in the event a curb on EU migration following Brexit (see Brexit threat to care workforce).
The Four Seasons head told Care Home Professional (CHP): “Nurses and care staff who were trained overseas make an enormously valuable contribution in caring for people in our care homes and hospitals. It is difficult to see how the country could maintain its health and social care services at current levels without them. An estimated 5% of the UK’s care workers come from other EC countries.
“Last year there were some 98,000 nurses who qualified in other countries working here and helping to make up for a shortage of home trained nurses. That is almost one in seven of the nurses working in Britain’s care homes and hospitals. About a third of these nurses from overseas came here from European countries.”
Mr Hammond said Brexit threatened to compound the current nursing shortage in the sector.
The Four Seasons CEO said rising demand for nurses from private care providers and NHS hospitals was escalating recruitment costs and these pressures were being exacerbated by a reliance on more expensive agency labour.
“Agency nurses have been an excellent way to cover for absences and during peaks of demand, but are not a solution for longer-term staffing needs,” Mr Hammond said.
Avery Healthcare boss John Strowbridge recently told CHP that agency costs were becoming an increasing burden on care home operators (see EXCLUSIVE: Agency boss slams agency wage costs).
Mr Hammond said additional staffing costs had to be put in the context of further increases in the national living wage.