Migrant Workers and the NHS

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2016 Health Care Service Group Conference
11 December 2015

Conference condemns the comments made by Home Secretary Theresa May at the 2015 Conservative conference where she stated “at best the net economic and fiscal effect of high immigration is zero”.

Conference believes this is not only inflammatory but is also not backed by evidence. The NHS is dependent on migrant workers to maintain and provide safe services. According to the 2013 labour force survey, 22% of health professionals and 21% of nurses are immigrants.

The “boom and bust” of workforce planning especially since 2010 has meant that yet again there is a shortage of key staff in the NHS. Conference welcomes that nursing and paramedic roles are on the Government’s occupational shortage list. However, this provides only a temporary solution. Unless it remains in place, NHS staff with work permits due for renewal could find themselves refused permission to stay in the UK if they are earning less than the salary thresholds set by the government.

Conference believes the contribution of all staff in the NHS must be valued and believes attacks on migrants is often fuelled by racism and is not based on facts or evidence. It is important that the NHS workforce is able to reflect society in order to deliver care appropriate to the needs of individuals. UNISON believes strongly that the NHS benefits from a diverse workforce and having staff who come from over 100 countries.

Conference calls on the SGE to;

1)Work with other parts of the union to highlight the vital contribution overseas workers make to the NHS and other public services

2)produce and provide evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee on the role of overseas workers and the impact of government policies on the NHS workforce.

3)support migrant workers to enable them to be active in UNISON and to continue to work with regions and branches on initiatives aimed at supporting overseas staff.