What’s Brexit impact on Wigan hospital staff?

Inside Wigan Infirmary
Inside Wigan Infirmary

Brexit may have contributed to a fall-off in the number of EU nationals working in Wigan’s hospitals.

Figures for the last three years show there has been a slight increase in the number of staff from European Union states to leave the employ of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust; and a marked reduction in the number of new recruits.

But local health chiefs point out that they took the decision, even before Britain voted to withdraw from Europe, to cease international recruitment in favour of employing home grown talent.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has sought to reassure NHS employees from the EU that they continue to be welcome in the UK. But there have been concerns that even if their residency status is confirmed, it could be more difficult to retain staff and attract new ones from EU countries.

As a result, inquiries have been made with all health trusts about EU staff comings and goings. And the trend is for a reduction since the referendum.

In Wigan the percentage of EU staff to leave in the last three years rose from 4.2 to 4.9 per cent while those joining fell from 7.6 of recruits to 2.5.

A WWL spokeswoman said: “Retention of staff recruited from the EU had been good with low attrition.

The organisation took a decision following a cost benefit analysis that it would be more effective to address the recruitment and retention challenges presented to our workforce by becoming a trailblazer for the Trainee Nursing Associate pilot.

This also allowed the Trust to explore the development of a “nursing school” to develop nursing pathways and “grow nurses” from the local communities using opportunities presented to us via the apprenticeship levy.

The decision was made before BREXIT that we would not be pursuing and further international recruitment for the foreseeable future.”

Danny Mortimer is co-convenor of the Cavendish Coalition, a group of 37 health and social care organisations which united to ensure staffing needs are met after Brexit.

He said: “The analysis is clear: there has been a change in 2015/16. Our experience before 2015/16 was that there were certain parts of our workforce that were a little bit more volatile. We would have some people come and stay for a year for example.

"Now our members don’t feel able to recruit in big numbers.

“There are practical challenges like the exchange rate is weak, and the number of people choosing to leave is increasing. We will benefit from more medical school places in England but medical school takes five years and it takes from 10 to 15 years to emerge as a consultant.”