OPINION: Was staff shortage related to the EU?

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Leader: Giles Archibald
Leader: Giles Archibald
30 June 2017 1:58PM

OCCASIONALLY my wife and I go out for lunch as a special treat. We have a favourite restaurant nearby the council offices where I work and one day we agreed to meet for lunch at around noon. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the restaurant to find a notice stating that the restaurant was closed due to staff shortages. The same notice was up the following day.

Whilst I have not had an opportunity to discuss this with the owner, I did wonder whether this shortage of staff was related to the concern of Europeans about working in the UK.

Recent research has uncovered that perhaps a third of EU nationals currently in Britain are considering leaving within the next five years. In addition, there is an indication that the number of EU nationals wishing to come to Britain may be slowing.

This is hardly surprising. Over the past year, the pound sterling has reduced significantly in value compared to European currencies and the status of EU nationals is still uncertain. (I know the government has made an offer to the EU to enable EU nationals to stay in the UK, but that is dependent on the EU agreeing a reciprocal agreement and might even be contingent on the full Brexit deal. So for now, the uncertainty remains.)

Let's look at one example as to why this is important.

The nursing profession has a serious staff shortage. The percentage of nurse vacancies in the NHS has risen from six per cent in 2013 to over 11 per cent in 2016.

Unfortunately over the past year we have seen a significant slowdown in the number of nurses coming from the EU to the NHS. This is due to many factors. However, Brexit appears to be one of them. If there is a reluctance on the part of EU nurses to come to this country, it will effect our ability to fully meet reach our target recruitment of nurses.

GILES ARCHIBALD

Leader South Lakeland District Council

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