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22 June 2017

Brexit reality bites. European carers are vital to the future of the UK care sector says Coate Water Care CEO.

Like most established providers in the UK care sector, Coate Water Care has long relied on a steady supply of nurses and carers from the European Union to compensate for the shortage of British workers with relevant experience and professional qualifications.

“Anybody who’s spent time at one of our care homes will tell you what a vital contribution carers and support staff from countries like Portugal, Spain and Poland make in terms of providing compassionate and professional care,” says Geraldine Smith, co-founder and CEO of Coate Water Care. “Unfortunately, the care sector’s ability to recruit quality staff from the European Union is being eroded by government policies in general and Brexit in particular.”

Over the last decade, the majority of overseas nurses and carers registering in the UK have come from other EU countries, so it is hardly surprising that the uncertain status of EU workers after Brexit is deterring lots of otherwise suitable professionals from moving here.

The Health Foundation’s comparative figures year-on-year to April 2017 show a staggering drop in the number of nurses from the European Union registering to work in the UK - from 1,304 last July to just 46 this April, a fall of 96%.

Taking England’s health and social care together there is now a shortfall of 30,000 nurses and carers. And with hospitals and care homes complaining about acute recruitment problems, the situation is worsening by the day.

“Coate Water Care are fortunate to have an experienced team of care managers and carers who are able to maintain our very high standards,” says Mrs Smith, who 22 years after opening her first care home with husband Chris is still very much hands on - not to mention being supported now by two grown-ups sons who are also qualified care managers.

“However,” she continues, “I am worried about the picture more generally. At less experienced providers, growing staff shortages mean vulnerable people are receiving poorer levels of care. It breaks my heart to think of people with conditions like dementia not receiving the care they deserve because of ill-advised government policies.”

According to data gathered by the charity ‘Skills for Care’, an estimated 338,520 adult care workers left their roles in 2015-16. That is equivalent to 928 people leaving their job every day. An estimated shortage of 84,320 care workers meant around one in every 20 care roles remained vacant. And that, of course, was BEFORE Brexit kicked-in.

“The future of EU nationals who contribute so much to Britain’s health and care system should be a priority in the Brexit negotiations,” concludes Mrs Smith. “That should go hand in hand with reversing the decision to end bursaries for home-grown student nurses. An effective and compassionate care sector needs the best talent from home and abroad, and it’s about time our political leaders recognised that.”

To talk about career opportunities at Coate Water Care’s seven care homes in lovely UK locations, please contact 01793 821200.

To see a full list of current vacancies please visit our ‘Careers in Care’ page -

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