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Confidence in UK’s post-Brexit healthcare sector on the wane

Only 37% of healthcare workers agree that the UK would be an attractive destination after EU departure

Brexit

The looming prospect of a no-deal Brexit is hammering confidence in the UK as a location for healthcare research and manufacturing, says a new report.

In the three months between April and July, the proportion of healthcare industry workers who said they believed that the UK would be an attractive destination after the UK leaves the EU has fallen from 53% to 37%, according to a GlobalData report, which surveyed people both within and outside the UK.

It’s worth noting that UK workers had the greatest dip in confidence, with 58% saying that they had a more negative outlook on the impact of Brexit on the healthcare sector since the first quarter of 2018, according to Thomas Moore, GlobalData’s senior pharma analyst. Participants from the US were the least likely to have changed their sentiment, with 65% saying it had remained the same over the same time period.

“These results suggest that there is increasing concern from within the healthcare sector that the ongoing Brexit negotiations will not result in a deal which allows the UK healthcare sector to thrive,” he says.

“Certain events in July 2018, such as increasing concern over drug supply chain issues due to Brexit, and the political turmoil within the UK Cabinet, are likely to have been driving forces in this shift.”

The reduced confidence is hardly a surprise, given that senior figures in both the UK and EU have been starting to talk more openly about preparing for no-deal. It remains to be seen whether that is posturing as negotiations come to a head, or stems from a genuine lack of common ground.

Smarter immigration policy

The new survey comes as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) called for a more sophisticated approach to immigration – one of the rallying calls for Leave campaigners – rather than relying on a simple target limit. In a new report it has called for an “open and controlled” system that can select people coming to the UK who can make a positive contribution to the economy.

The report notes that in the biopharma sector, the proportion of non-UK employees working in companies in the UK ranges from 17% to 41%, and tends to be higher in smaller firms.

“International people and skills are integral to research collaboration and underpin scientific development across drugs, genomics and synthetic biology,” according to the CBI. “Brain circulation is vital for the UK life sciences ecosystem.”

What is needed is “an ability for overseas workers to fill a wide variety of roles from scientists and lab technicians, to entrepreneurs, marketing and regulatory experts [and] easy mobility of staff between the UK and EU is equally vital.”

The CBI report also points to the steep decline in EU nurses and midwives working in the health service – down 87% between April 2017 and March 2018 – which must be tackled to avoid compromising patient care. A smarter immigration policy could make the UK a destination where overseas doctors and nurses want to work, it contends.

The Home Office has said it has no plans to scrap immigration targets, according to a BBC report.

Article by
Phil Taylor

10th August 2018

From: Regulatory

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