STUC conference backs HCSA call for Brexit certainty

STUC conference backs HCSA call for Brexit certainty

The Scottish Trades Union Congress has today overwhelmingly backed HCSA’s call for “Brexit certainty” to avoid aggravating the NHS vacancy crisis.

Hundreds of delegates at the annual STUC Congress in Dundee voted in support of the urgent call.

Moving the HCSA motion, National Officer, Robert Quick told the conference that 7.6 per cent of consultant posts in Scotland were currently vacant and over half of these posts had been vacant for more than six months.

He highlighted that hospitals in Scotland were particularly reliant on doctors from the EU, with 9.1 per cent of specialists qualifying in the EEA. Anaesthetics and intensive care medicine (15 per cent), Pathology (13 per cent) and Surgery (13 per cent) faced significant risks if the vacancy crisis was exacerbated by Brexit.

While welcoming assurances that had been offered to EU nationals already working in the NHS, Mr Quick argued: “Uncertainty around Brexit risks exacerbating the NHS vacancy crisis.

“A vacancy crisis will become a catastrophe unless more is done to support current and potential hospital doctors from EU countries.”

STUC backing comes after NHS Providers reported that the UK’s decision to leave the EU was already impacting on the recruitment and retention of NHS staff in England, with trust leaders telling them that “while Brexit negotiations are ongoing, it was very difficult for their staff to feel confident about their future in the UK.”

Certain geographic areas of Scotland may be more reliant than others on non-UK EEA graduates. For example, Western Isles Integration Joint Board has noted that of 12 consultants, only one is Scottish while eight are from other EU countries and three are non-EU.

HCSA's motion commits the STUC to call for the Governments of all four UK nations to espouse:

  • A commitment to the security of residence of EU nationals already working in the NHS
  • A positive welcome to EU nationals who have been discouraged from working in our NHS, through the issue of an ‘NHS Passport’
  • Continuation of recognition of European Specialist medical qualifications
  • Public support for EU nationals and non-UK nationals working in the NHS, with particular emphasis upon zero tolerance for abuse.