Brexit threatens future of 78,000 social care workers, report warns

Failure to recruit sufficient numbers of British-born care workers could leave older people at risk following the effects of the EU Referendum.
Social care worker

Failure to recruit sufficient numbers of British-born care workers could leave older and disabled people at risk in the wake of the EU referendum.

Older and disabled people are at risk if more British-born care workers aren’t recruited post-Brexit. 
Picture: iStock 

The warning comes from the charity Independent Age, which has conducted research highlighting 78,000 of the 84,000 European Economic Area (EEA) workers in the adult social care sector don’t currently hold British citizenship.

It fears patient safety could be at risk if freedom of movement between EU member states is affected by the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

The charity – along with health think tank the International Longevity Centre UK – analysed Office of National Statistics population figures and workforce data from the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care.

It found:

  • In the past 10 years, staff turnover rates in social care have increased from
    18% to 24.3%, while vacancy rates have increased from 3.5% to 5.1%.
  • Restrictions on EEA workers could add a further 70,000 people to the shortfall of more than a million care workers already predicted in the next 20 years.
  • The ‘care ratio’ of 1 worker per 7 older people today could almost double to one per 13.5 in 2037.

Registered Nursing Home Association chief executive officer Frank Ursell said his organisation had little choice but to ‘wait and see’ what Brexit was going to mean for social care.

He said that despite the uncertainty, the recruitment of nurses from within and outside the EEA had remained steady, but added: 'I do not know why the same does not apply to healthcare assistants.'

Further information

Brexit and the future of migrants in the social care workforce