• NHS Employers warns NHS Pay Review Body government proposals confuse “high pay with high value”
  • Organisation pledges to continue to push for a “more nuanced approach”
  • Adds long term financial settlement for the NHS “falls short”

The government’s immigration white paper does not provide a long-term solution to the NHS’ workforce needs, NHS Employers has warned.

In its 2019-20 submission to the NHS Pay Review body, NHS Employers said the UK’s future skills based immigration system “does not provide a long term solution to health and social care needs across nursing and other professions”.

It added the government “continues to confuse high pay with high skill and high value”.

“We will continue to argue for a more nuanced approach,” NHS Employers added.

The white paper, which was published at the end of last year, said nurses and midwives could be among the roles most disrupted by the immigration policy because the NHS is “heavily reliant” on long term European Economic Area migrant labour.

The paper also said the future system represents a “more restrictive” policy for EEA workers.

NHS Employers said its evidence to the Pay Review Body usually sets out its expectations on increases to basic pay. But, because of the recently agreed Agenda for Change pay deal, announced last year, it would concentrate on implementation progress and to continue to highlight issues of concern.

Regarding Brexit, NHS Employers said there are fewer employers with plans to recruit from the EEA due to the uncertainty about immigration policy from March 2019.

It stressed a post-Brexit immigration system must “secure clear and reasonable routes to immigration” and “be flexible to allow employers to recruit appropriately”.

“Employers believe that Brexit has had a negative impact on their workforce,” NHS Employers said.

The submission was also critical of the government’s long term financial settlement for the NHS, adding it “falls short of what is required” and will “restrict the ability of the NHS to invest in the real transformation of services”.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said some of the key messages include that the workforce shortage is “the toughest challenge the NHS faces” and that it is “an incredibly difficult period financially for health and social care”.

“To develop a sustainable workforce with the right skills, we must prioritise long term workforce planning and talent management,” Mr Mortimer said. “The NHS will only continue to thrive if it is given the right resources.”