Benefits of migration in the UK health sector
An economics expert has claimed that without migration into the UK, the NHS would be in “dire straits”.
While it’s hard to judge whether the UK economy in general benefits or suffers from the estimated net migration of 243,000, a member of the board in the Office for Budget Responsibility has specified that the UK’s health sector – and the NHS in particular – is better off for it.
Stephen Nickell offered that “some 35%” of the UK’s health professionals are not British nationals.
“It’s quite plain that, if they weren’t there, the health service would be in absolutely dire straits. That’s a special point.”
A briefing by Dr Cinzia Rienzo of Oxford University’s Migration Observatory appears to offer equally strong evidence of migrants’ key role in the UK economy. It found 6 million foreign-born people of working age currently in the UK – more than double the figure of 20 years previous.
The number of foreign-born workers as a proportion of the total UK workforce has increased from 7.2% in 1993 to 15.2% in 2013, with foreign-born workers representing just over a quarter of UK health professionals. As Mr Nickell stated, such a presence in the industry is helping prevent the “dire straits” he theorised the NHS could become.
While politicians debate the current immigration system and whether the rates should be reduced or increased, a blog post written in November 2013 by Dr Rienzo also found that “immigration should be seen at least as much as an opportunity as a threat, both for the UK economy as a whole and for British business and workers”. The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also previously stated the importance of an EU presence in the UK market, saying that the NHS would be “in serious trouble” without it.
During Mr Nickell’s evidence to the Treasury Select Committee he couldn’t go one way or the other on whether EU migration to the UK was a boon or a burden on our economy.
“The general consensus is that for the native population, the existing population, immigration may be a little bit good, it may be a little bit bad economically. But there isn’t overall that much in it.”
For those who move to the UK legally to seek work, there are more options available for helping them to get started in their desired career. The added influence of pan-European working styles and philosophies can bring a lot to the workplace. In fact, some employers tend to search specifically for foreign workers with the requisite skills which can be transferred to the UK economy – the NHS being one such area.
For those who aren’t headhunted for such positions, navigating the way to a new life in the UK can be difficult. But there are many methods for jobseekers currently planning the move:
- Online job boards
- Recruitment agencies
- Ex-pat groups
- Reaching out to potential employees on spec via post or social media
- Attending networking events.
These methods are seeing a strong increase in use from international workers, particularly in the health sector.
As the row over migration caps continues, many people who want to join the prospering job market in the UK may not be able to move, which could have a knock-on effect on not only the UK’s economy, but that of the entire EU as well. It can be argued that the 35 or so per cent of health professionals in the UK who are foreign nationals could be adversely affected by any new laws, which would also shake up the economy. In an already financially troubling time for the UK, this could be an even bigger struggle.
The editorial unit
Photo: Elliot Brown