Reducing the immigration salary threshold ‘not enough’ to tackle staffing shortages

Experts warn the impact on social care could disastrous.

Kizzy Bass
10 February 2020
Care worker helping with meals

Nearly a fifth of all NHS workers are foreign nationals.

The Migration Advisory Committee has advised the government to reduce the current threshold for migrant workers from £30,000 to £25,600 but health unions feel that this decrease would be enough.


The MAC said the reduction would help recruit more skilled NHS staff but with the current starting salary of a newly-qualified nurse starting a round £24,000 and combined with the current 43,000 vacancies ongoing, there would still be a shortfall.

As nearly a fifth of all NHS workers are foreign nationals, the NHS depends on these overseas workers to fill many of these vital roles.

Experts have also has warned that the impact on social care could disastrous.

Falling short of what is needed.

Responding to the latest report from the Migration Advisory Committee, (MAC) on a future points-based immigration system, Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said: “The recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to maintain a restrictive immigration system appear to fall short of what is required to meet the workforce needs of the health and social care sectors, now and in the future.


“Whilst international recruitment shouldn’t be used as a replacement for domestic workforce supply, it’s clear that overseas recruitment of health and care staff will need to continue in the short to medium-term so that services can fill the growing number of vacant posts.

“We are disappointed to see that our concerns, shared by the wider sectors, in relation to the need for an appropriate immigration route for social care workers, care assistants and support workers appear to have been ignored.

A disaster for social care.

The Nuffield Trust Senior Fellow Natasha Curry added; “NHS leaders will be relieved that these MAC proposals would not greatly worsen the difficult staffing situation they face – but the changes would be a disaster for social care unless a new sector-specific route is added.

“The skilled worker route laid out would mean nurses and other health professionals could still come in on a health service salary. Some categories of staff, including senior social care workers, would benefit from the cut in general salary thresholds to £25,600. However, EEA migrants in the service and the trusts who employ them will now face the same hefty fees as those from elsewhere, which can only be a deterrent.


“The Committee suggests that social care simply needs more funding to adjust to a drop in migration, but at the moment the sector is verging on bankruptcy with no end in sight.”

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