Don’t play divide and rule with the health and care workforce, urges National Voices

Wed, 5 October 2016

National Voices has urged the Government to not play divide and rule with the health and care workforce following announcements made at this week’s Conservative Party Conference.

National Voices has urged the Government to not play divide and rule with the health and care workforce following announcements made at this week’s Conservative Party Conference. 

While welcoming the announcement of more medical training places, the coalition of 160 health and care charities firmly disagrees with the implied scapegoating of overseas health workers.

Commenting, National Voices chief executive Jeremy Taylor said:

As the population grows and gets older, we will need more doctors and other health and care staff. It is good that the Government wants to train more doctors at home and Jeremy Hunt is right to highlight the risks of over-reliance on overseas workers and the harm that can cause to the healthcare systems of poorer countries. 

The fact is that our NHS and social care systems have always relied on a combination of home grown and overseas talent, and will continue to do so. Let the main focus be on the availability and skills of health and care workers, not their country of origin. That is what patients and users of services deserve.

Jeremy Hunt’s speech itself was carefully nuanced. We welcome his affirmation that he wants EU nationals working in health and care services to be allowed to remain in the UK post-Brexit, though it falls far short of a firm government commitment.

But overall the message from the Conservative Conference is worrying, taking account of other speeches covering immigration. The impression being given is: ‘UK doctors good, overseas doctors bad’. This is harmful to morale in the NHS, hurtful to health and care workers from minority communities, and in turn has an impact on the  wellbeing of patients and citizens across communities.

Divisive attitudes and prejudice are resurgent in the UK, and the Government has a responsibility to promote cohesion, not to sow division.

For more information, contact National Voices’ Head of Communications, Andrew McCracken, on 020 3176 0737 or andrew.mccracken@nationalvoices.org.uk.