TC Global Insights

Global Employability

Skills Gaps: Healthcare Professionals in the UK (NHS)

One in eleven posts in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), which is the UK’s largest employer,remain unfilledaccording to theSkills Shortage Bulletinissued by theEdge Foundation in July 2019. This clearly indicates thesevere skills gap for healthcare professionals in the UK. Strategies are being taken to improve this situation, including the modification of visa restrictions for healthcare professions but let’s review what this gap actually means.
There has been a decrease in nursing graduates by 4%, leaving 41,000 nurse vacancies unfilled. Simultaneously, a number of issues have also arisen in medicine, adult social care and in mental health.The shortage is also partly blamed on Brexit, resulting in a mass exodus of European Healthcare professionals, who have been key to holding up the system. There are desperate calls for action as the Health Foundation predicts that the shortage of nurses alone will reach70,000 within five years.
In general, skills shortages are part of a national trend in the UK, with employers stating that they cannot find workers with the skills they need for two-thirds of positions.

Increasing demands, a decreasing workforce

With an ageing population and increasing demands on NHS services, the skills gap looks set to widen in the coming years, meaning the threat posed by the NHS skills gaps constitutes a significant long-term socio-economic issue.As projected in acomprehensive report written by the Health Foundation, The King’s Fund and Nuttfield Trust, the shortage of NHS staff in England is now a greater threat to health services than funding challenges. There is a shortage of more than 100,000 staff and this gap continues to widen (to 350,000 by 2030), especially,they write, if the number of international recruits and newly trained staff does not rise quickly.
Moreover, staff shortages are taking its toll on the health and wellbeing of current NHS staff, who are struggling to maintain the high quality healthcare required in a service with increasing demands put upon it. This impacts not only the quality of care, but also staff retention rates, as a number of newly trained recruits are leaving the profession.
Beyond nursing and medicine, there are a considerable amount of vacancies in adult social care (around 110,000): 1 in 10 social worker and 1 in 10 care worker roles are currently unfilled. In a society which relies upon public healthcare support, this puts the most vulnerable and needy in society in severe danger.

The shortage occupation list and international recruitment in the NHS

The government has developed a ‘shortage occupation list’ which helps employers recruit from overseas.
So, what is the shortage occupation list and how can it help you to move overseas and get a UK visa?
The shortage occupation list was made to highlight where there is a lack of workers in the domestic UK labour market. With the exception of nursing, if an employer recruits for a job listed on theshortage occupation list, they do not have to meet the necessary requirements of the resident labour market test (RLMT). This is with a view to speed up the recruitment process. However, this targeted recruitment drive has advantages for those looking to move overseas as healthcare professionals. For those looking for a rewarding, skilled and critical career path, particularly in an age upon which we are on the brink of automation and AI risking our current career landscape, the public healthcare sector in the UK is the greatest opportunity for you.

Further reading:

Edge Bulletin 5, The Skills Shortage Bulletin, July 2019

A full list of shortage occupations and skills gaps in the UK can be found on the website.

the Health Foundation, The King’s Fund and Nuttfield Trust, The Healthcare Workforce in England: Make or Break? 15th November 2018. Full report here:

Date added

Filed under:

Global Employability


No spam, just your favourite topics.

Choose Insight topics that you are interested in to subscribe for your personalized newsletter.

A world
of possibilities awaits.
Join the movement.
Find your perfect university,
in one of 40 countries all over the world
Prepare for the future,
whether at university, business or in employment
Secure your future,
through smart, international investments
Connect with leading international companies
and unlock the potential of your team
Fill in the form, so we can contact
you and start our journey together.