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Impact of the Immigration Bill on the NHS and social care

The briefing looks both at the direct provisions of the Bill, and at the context of EU exit and the Immigration White Paper which will determine its impact in practice. 

Key points

  • Social care and the NHS are both experiencing staffing pressures that obstruct vital care. The end of free movement poses some risk of worsening this in and of itself, by creating a deterrent effect. The measures in the Immigration White Paper would considerably worsen the situation.
  • Shifting future EEA migrants from free movement to a restricted high-skill migration system will create additional barriers to their remaining permanently in the UK. 72% of nurses, 70% of scientific, therapeutic and technical staff and 36% of ambulance staff earn less than the required amount. MPs should seek assurances, possibly backed by provisions in the Bill, that exemptions will be maintained and expanded as a minimum.
  • A blanket application of the proposed £30,000 salary threshold for nurses entering the UK as skilled migrants would cause a significant problem, ruling out one nurse in twenty of all those joining English trusts. The existing system of different limits and exemptions should be kept and expanded to EU staff, but even under these most NHS support staff and some ambulance staff would be denied entry as migrants.
  • The low skilled migration route proposed in the White Paper is poorly suited to adult social care because it is temporary and much less appealing than current options. In view of the multiple problems in the sector, MPs should ask for an alternative system to be considered, possibly backed by provisions in the Bill.