nhs trust England they have increased recruitment from low-income “red list” countries to make up for the post-Brexit loss of EU staff, despite a code of practice to safeguard health services in those developing countries.
A report by think tank Nuffield Trust also identified shortages in vital specialist areas from brexitincluding dentistry, cardiothoracic surgery and anesthesiology.
It found that Brexit is still causing problems with the supply of medicines in North Ireland despite a change in the arrangements established by the EU last April.
The report says that since 2021, Northern Ireland’s protocol mandating EU trade rules in the region has resulted in a different set of medicines being available compared to the rest of the UK.
Of the 597 products specifically approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency since Brexit, “only eight were also approved for Northern Ireland under the same name and company.”
It also found that, since 2021, 52 products had been granted marketing authorization for Northern Ireland but not in Britain under the EU approval system, including a painkiller from the Slovenian company Sandoz Farmacevtska Druzba designed to prevent people from die from opioid overdose.
The DUP described the report as “deeply alarming.”
During the research for the report, Health and Brexit: six years laterinterviewees in the NHS noted a shift from national recruitment towards individual agencies and NHS trusts, with a “significant increase” in country recruitment to the World Health Organization. support and safeguard listor “red list”, countries like Nigeria, Pakistan and some other Asian countries.
It found that the nurse registry for those non-EU countries had grown from about 600 a month before 2020 to about 1,000 a month in 2021.
The WHO red list is replicated in the UK government’s code of practice on recruitment and stipulates that recruitment from any of the 47 countries on this list compromises local health systems.
Exceptions allow recruitment when a health worker makes a direct request to the National Health Service themselves or if there is a bilateral agreement in force. Otherwise, the report says: “The UK healthcare system is not supposed to be actively recruiting staff from ‘red list’ low- and middle-income countries who are identified as experiencing structural labor shortages. “.
The safeguards are in place to protect hospitals and healthcare systems in low-income countries, with 89% of the global nursing shortage in those countries, according to data cited by the Nuffield Trust. However, NHS trusts and agencies were openly recruiting in these countries, raising important ethical questions about UK policy, the academics found.
But the report found that the number of nurses joining the UK registry from outside the EU increased from 800 in 2012 to 18,000 in 2022.
He also said that some “essential professions” had been “left behind in this general shift from the EU and Efta” to non-EU countries. “Cardiothoracic surgery has historically relied heavily on European personnel and saw a 100% increase in the five years before the EU referendum,” he said. “This has been reduced to almost nothing, without an increase in recruitment from the rest of the world.”
Anesthetics have also been affected, with dire consequences for the NHS.
Staff from EU and European Free Trade Area countries, including Norway and Switzerland, had increased by more than 20% before Brexit, but have since fallen to just 5%.
The number of EU and Efta dentists joining the registry in the UK has halved, it said.
The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.