Stephen Nickell, who is on the board of the Office for Budget Responsibility, suggested 35% of ‘health professionals’ came from outside the UK.
Recent estimates suggest that over a quarter of all UK consultants are not British nationals but the figure for the total health staff is lower. UKIP said the NHS jobs could be filled if immigration was reduced. Prime Minister David Cameron has sought to reduce levels of immigration from within and outside the EU but has admitted his goal of reducing net migration to the UK below 100,000 by next May will not be met as numbers are currently double that.
A significant number of GP positions and specialist roles go to non-EU workers, and with the current staff shortage these workers come as a blessing in disguise.
Critics of limits imposed in recent years on the number of non-EU workers able to come to Britain and action to deter EU migrants from coming have pointed to the number of highly skilled, high-paid migrants working in the NHS and other public services as well as migrants holding lower-paid, manual positions.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has previously said the NHS will be ‘in serious trouble’ without EU workers.Mr Nickell – a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee who is now with the OBR, the official fiscal watchdog, has said, ‘There’s not a lot not it.
he 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. Obviously there are special situations like in the health service, for example – some 35% of health professionals are migrants. It’s quite plain that, if they weren’t there, the health service would be in absolutely dire straits. That’s a special point.’