PLANS for a minimum salary threshold of £45,000 for foreign workers has got civic chiefs “scared stiff” as they fear “it would kill” the health and social care sectors in Gloucestershire.

There are more than 28,000 people working in both sectors in the county.

This includes nearly 4,000 nurses, 1,600 medical staff, more than 6800 support and administrative and clerical staff and nearly 10,000 staff who provide direct care.

But there are recruitment and retention challenges and there are almost 3,000 vacancies in total across both health and social care sectors.

Health and social care bosses say they are still feeling the impacts of the pandemic and staff are further impacted by the rising cost of living.

Staff satisfaction with pay is at its lowest level for many years and they are competing for workers with other sectors such as retail and hospitality.

And both sectors have an ageing staff profile particularly within key services such as primary care and social care.

Health trusts and care providers rely on many workers from overseas and plans this year will see more than 150 extra nurses and 100 care workers recruited from abroad.

But the Home Office is considering proposals to scrap the shortage occupation list which currently allows workers from abroad to be employed at 20 per cent below the going rate in their industry. Among those on the list are health and social care workers.

There are also other proposals such as a cap on foreign care workers which would raise the minimum salary threshold to as high as £45,000.

And County Councillor David Drew (L, Stroud Central) said he was terrified by the impact such proposals would have in Gloucestershire. He called on health and social care bosses to echo his concerns.

“I hope you can send that message up. I am scared stiff if the £45,000 threshold comes in you will just kill the care industry,” he said at Gloucestershire County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee meeting on November 28.