More training places need to be made available to help match workforce requirements in the healthcare sector, reducing the reliance on international workers.

A report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) on immigration after Brexit said the sector was keen to attract and train more employees from the domestic labour market but found it difficult because training places for healthcare professionals were controlled and capped.

It called for a more ‘dynamic system’ so employers and universities can work better together to provide the training to match workforce needs.

EU nationals fill a range of roles across NHS trusts, social care and independent healthcare providers. EU nationals make up 17% of dentists; 10% of doctors; and 7% of social care workers, physiotherapists, care workers and nurses.

The report Open and Controlled: a new approach to immigration after Brexit said health services were already under strain and an ageing population was likely to see patient demand for services rise further.

It said: ‘The sector is struggling to fill vacancies and address skills gaps now. This has been compounded since the EU referendum result.

‘Delivering effective patient care requires a variety of different services to work in harmony together. From when a patient is first diagnosed to returning home to recover, a variety of roles are required. Workers from both the EU and rest of the world play an invaluable role in supporting this at all skills levels, from a leading brain surgeon from India through to homecare assistants from Portugal.’

CBI recommendations include moving away from controlling numbers to assessing contribution and reforming non-EU immigration, so firms can better access people and skills from around the world.