“(5A) Regulations under subsection (1) must not be made until the Secretary of State has undertaken and published an impact assessment of the effect of the regulations on the United Kingdom’s health, social care and medical research sectors.
(5B) An impact assessment under subsection (5A) above must include, but is not limited to, an assessment of the regulations impact on—
(a) the health and social care workforce;
(b) the cancer workforce; and
(c) the medical research workforce.
(5C) An impact assessment under subsection 1 must be laid before both Houses of Parliament.”
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Stringer. As chair of the all-party parliamentary group on cancer, it is also a pleasure to take this opportunity to raise these issues by moving amendment 22. The measure has wide-ranging support from the cancer sector, with no fewer than 18 cancer charities urging support for it, namely Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Research UK, Bloodwise, Bowel Cancer UK, the Brain Tumour Charity, Brain Tumour Research, Breast Cancer Care, Breast Cancer Now, the cancer counselling group, CHAPS, CLIC Sargent, Ovarian Cancer Action, Pancreatic Cancer UK, Prostate Cancer UK, Sarcoma UK, Tackle Prostate Cancer, the Teenage Cancer Trust and Tenovus Cancer Care.
We all agree that ending freedom of movement is one of the most significant changes to immigration policy in decades. It is therefore imperative that people know what the impact of that change will be on the health and social care workforce; indeed, we touched on some of those issues in an earlier debate. Making sure that the Government are taking steps to understand fully the impact of ending freedom of movement on the health and social care workforce is important to the organisations I listed, and to the people whom they exist to support. As the Minister has said, this is something that is in the Government’s mind, but these proposals make it more important that things are carried through to a conclusion.
The purpose of the amendment is to require the Government to make arrangements to conduct an impact assessment in both Houses on the implications of ending freedom of movement for the health, social care, cancer and medical research workforces, prior to the change coming into effect. The amendment is focused on the principle of ensuring that any change of such scale and importance is not undertaken without the Government demonstrating that they have prepared properly. As the Minister is well aware, getting the preparation right is key for the future health and social care system.
Historically, the NHS workforce has relied on the support of professionals from across the world coming to the UK. In recent decades, that has included a supply of EU nationals. Nearly 10% of doctors, 8% of social care staff and 6% of nurses working in the UK are from the EEA. The Government have acknowledged that there are already pressures facing the health and social care workforce. Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are all experiencing high vacancy rates. Given the worrying trends that we have seen since June 2016, we must ask whether leaving the EU will create further pressures.