THE NHS “needs a new Windrush Generation” to solve staffing shortfalls, MP Matt Hancock has said.
The secretary of state for health and social care made the statement at the launch of the new Interim NHS People Plan on June 3.
Referring to Britain’s recruitment of nursing staff from the Caribbean to help build the NHS after the Second World War, Hancock said: “The National Health Service has always had an international workforce, from the Windrush Generation to the Warsaw Generation.
“We must never forget the enormous contribution that people born beyond these shores have made to one of this nation’s greatest institutions.
Looking to the future, Hancock outlined the need for another substantial international recruitment drive. “The People Plan spells out how we need a new Windrush Generation for the NHS. A recruitment drive to attract the brightest and best doctors, nurses, and clinical staff from overseas,” he said.
The MP for West Suffolk, who has launched his bid to replace Theresa May and become the next prime minister, extended an invitation to medical staff considering seeking opportunities in the NHS.
He said: “And I want to send a very clear message to those people: if you have the talent, the skills, and the determination to pack up your hopes and dreams in a suitcase and travel to the other side of the world, then the NHS will be your new home.”
His comments have been met with scepticism from critics who have not forgotten last year’s Windrush scandal.
Many members of the Windrush Generation, an estimated 50,000, faced the threat of deportation, being denied access to free healthcare and the right to work and claim benefits because they lacked the adequate documentation to prove their British citizenship.
Some of those caught up in the scandal were wrongly deported, plunged into debt and suffered mental health issues as a result.
While those affected had strongly believed the UK was their home, which it had been for decades, they were classed as illegal immigrants by the Home Office.
Responding to Hancock’s comments, one critic tweeted: “The actual disrespect. New #Windrush ??? #MattHancock you and your party need to have firm words with each other.”
The interim NHS people plan outlines the health service’s vision for how staff will be supported to deliver care and what actions will be implemented to improve working culture and conditions.
It identifies nurses as the most urgent challenge with regards to staffing shortages and proposes “significantly” increasing the number of newly qualified nurses and bringing in nurses from abroad to close the gap.