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National Health Services’ Human Resource Managers Addressing Post-Brexit Issues


The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union forced organizations with the international workforce to address the challenges in recruiting, training, and creating career development opportunities. National Health Services (NHS) is an example of a UK company that highly depends on non-residential employees, and Brexit’s outcomes disrupted its HR management processes. This proposal provides a literature review about the challenges due to the demand for specific work with EU citizens and the research of NHS managers’ practices. The results suggested that the issues caused by the cancellation of the EU policies, which regulated employees’ immigration, ethics, and working conditions. The NHS HR managers optimize their operations by developing policies to provide the non-UK workforce with sufficient opportunities.

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Brexit caused massive changes in the British organizations’ operations, enabling them to update all sectors where the non-UK or EU representatives were involved. In large, government-depended organizations such as NatorganizationsService (NHS), a significant number of employees belong to the EU countries. Indeed, more than 50 thousand healthcare workers of NHS are non-UK staff representatives, and most of them are EU countries’ citizens (Quadery et al., 2020). Brexit influenced people’s freedom of movement and immigration and made the EU-established Working Time Directive legislation irrelevant. This paper aims to research how can the HR issues that have arisen since Brexit be addressed by HR Managers in the NHS.

The project that includes an analysis of how HR managers address the Brexit-caused issues in the NHS is beneficial for the organization because their solutions would become strategies for dealing with future challenges. Indeed, a significant scope of its employees are EU citizens, and the updated policies influenced their salaries, contracts, rights, and obligations (Costa-Font, 2017). The UK healthcare sector would benefit from the improved HR practices because multiple pharmaceutical firms and facilities employ non-UK citizens and must update their practices (Kokotovic & Kurecic, 2021). Lastly, the industry can develop strategies of working with the EU residents in the post-Brexit conditions based on the NHS example.

Research Questions

Three research questions to explore how the NHS HR Managers address the Brexit-caused issues were developed to explore. The first is “What are the substitutes for the policies that are no longer applicable for recruitment and employee management?.” The second question is, “What are the risk factors for staffing crisis to occur due to Brexit’s regulations?.” The last research statement is “What are the NHS’s sectors that require immediate reaction of HR Managers in the post-Brexit circumstances?.”

Research Aim and Objectives

The primary objective is to identify the regulatory policies that have been established by the EU and are no longer applicable in UK organizations (Kokotovic & Kurecic, 2021). Then, the research aims to study statistics of how much workforce are the EU citizens to retrieve potential employment risks for NHS. Lastly, the organization’s current HR Management operations, such as recruitment, training, or career development, must be explored to identify the need for urgent reaction.

Research Scope

The project’s research activities must address the aims; consequently, data collection is necessary to be performed first. Literature review and the policies’ analysis would help determine the exact challenges HR at NHS faced after Brexit. Questionnaires for the managers can be developed for receiving detailed feedback about the current practices to deal with the EU residents who work at the organization (Kokotovic & Kurecic, 2021). The operations must address different aspects such as recruitment, training, contracting to reveal the risk factors for NHS and the overall healthcare sector.

Justification of The Study

UK’s withdrawal from the EU happened on January 30, 2020; however, Brexit has been discussed by many scholars since its first mentioning in 2016. The project about NHS HR managers’ approaches to addressing the post-Brexit issues related to working with the EU residents would provide evidence about the usefulness of the substitutional policies (Maben & King, 2019). Furthermore, the research would reveal the influence of the government’s activities on large international companies, suggesting the directions other businesses can take for updating their operations.

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Literature Review

NHS is one of the largest organizations with an international workforce, and their practices of recruitment, training, and career development were explored by multiple scholars of management, healthcare, and social studies. Indeed, research conducted by Hussain et al. in 2020 described how workers with different backgrounds could develop solid and efficient teams. Hussain et al. (2020) state that “required by national policy, one-dimensional model of culture causes human resource management interventions, intended to address cultural diversity, is ineffective” (p. 218). Other scholars also explored Brexit’s impact on NHS operations because the organization is government-owned and is a profound case to study how political changes influence different sectors.

For instance, Dalingwater conducted research “NHS staffing shortages and the Brexit effect” in 2019 to predict how EU citizens working at the company would deal with the novel policies (Dalingwater, 2019). The study revealed that staffing shortage is inevitable, and NHS must create their own regulations to help the non-UK workforce maintain proper conditions and career development opportunities.

How human resourcing will change for companies similar to NHS has been studied by Ridgway in 2019. The scholarly article “Brexit: human resourcing implications” compared the UK’s withdrawal consequences to the global recession of 2008 and retrieved recommendations for the HR managers forced to operate in the new conditions (Rightway, 2019). The study of similar outcomes yet with a detailed exploration of NHS’s experience was conducted by Costa-Font in 2017. The article “The National Health Service at a critical moment: when Brexit means hectic” was based on the congress’ outcomes and drafted policies; however, it has already mentioned the inevitable challenges for NHS (Costa-Font, 2017).

Indeed, Costa-Font (2017) claims that “leaving the EU entails the introduction of important restrictions on labor mobility which can shift labor costs upwards would become challenging for recruiting the European staff” (p. 787). Consequently, the literature review supports the urgency of addressing the HR managers’ practices necessary for dealing with post-Brexit issues.


Developed questions and objectives require to include several methodologies to the study for retrieving sufficient evidence to make it creditable. Indeed, the research philosophy for addressing the HR managers’ strategies of dealing with post-Brexit consequences must be based on pragmatism and realism, thus the selected tools; thus interpret the evidence from reliable databases (Maben & King, 2019). Furthermore, to retrieve practical conclusions, the methodology must observe the issue from multiple aspects and include the analysis of different stakeholders’ perspectives.

The research approach for exploring the Brexit-related problems requires selecting the descriptive strategy to analyze the existing tools HR managers use in their practices. Moreover, the qualitative study must be conducted as the activities are more crucial to be included in the description than the statistical information (Costa-Font, 2017). Based on the chosen approaches, the primary types of research are observational, and the tools are the questionnaires and existing practices’ analysis.

Data collection can be separated into two stages of the project’s completion: literature review and interviews for HR managers to explore their practices to address post-Brexit processes. Additionally, the government’s documentation about Brexit conditions and the regulators that are no longer functional in the UK must be retrieved and explored. The literature review is a foundation necessary for developing the questionnaires for NHS HR managers to study their practices’ effectiveness in addressing the novel policies. The questions must include factional information and enable the managers to provide a detailed explanation of their opinions regarding the strategies they use for recruitment, training, and career development (Einola & Alvesson, 2021). Direct observation of the current process of the HR department’s work can also be performed for retrieving the challenges faced by them due to the new policies.

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Sampling for the study is limited by the NHS managers involved in the HR operations, and the narrow scope of participants is beneficial for the qualitative research. Questionnaires based on the literature review and statistics would require data analysis methods such as reliability tests and diagnostic studies (Einola & Alvesson, 2021). Based on the outcomes, the effectiveness of the managers’ activities would be revealed, and the risks for workforce shortage would be identified. As the sampling is narrow, and most of the statistical data is accessible, a study can be conducted within one month, starting from literature review and ending with the questionnaires’ analysis.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations for the selected study objectives must address all possible issues related to interviewing NHS managers and representing the results. Indeed, voluntary participation must be the main approach for involving the participants, and each of them must sign the informed consent which explains the project’s aims, risks, advantages, and stakeholders (Maben & King, 2019). Anonymity must be granted for all who filled questionnaires, and even the researchers must be unable to identify a person behind the documentations. Ethical consideration of results representation must be addressed through providing references to other studies and explaining the importance of the conclusions for further research.

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Costa-Font, J. (2017). The National Health Service at a critical moment: When Brexit means hectic. Journal of Social Policy, 46(4), 783-795. Web.

Dalingwater, L. (2019). NHS staffing shortages and the Brexit effect. Observatoire de la Société Britannique, 24, 67-86. Web.

Einola, K., & Alvesson, M. (2021). Behind the numbers: Questioning questionnaires. Journal of Management Inquiry, 30(1), 102-114. Web.

Hussain, B., Sheikh, A., Timmons, S., Stickley, T., & Repper, J. (2020). Workforce diversity, diversity training and ethnic minorities: The case of the UK National Health Service. International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management, 20(2), 201-221. Web.

Kokotovic, F., & Kurecic, P. (2021). What remains after Brexit? A view from the outside. Australian and New Zealand Journal of European Studies, 9(2). Web.

Maben, J., & King, A. (2019). Engaging NHS staff in research. BMJ, 365, 14040. Web.

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Quadery, S. R., Roodbari, H., Pardeshi, P., Shah, D., Ahmed, H., Jain, S., & Winn, S. (2020). Innovative recruitment and clinical orientation programme to manage NHS junior doctor shortfall: A district hospital experience. Future Healthcare Journal, 7(2), 131. Web.

Ridgway, M. (2019). Brexit: Human resourcing implications. Employee Relations, 41(5), 1033-1045. Web.

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