Nurses being lured away from NHS by higher wages abroad

The NHS is facing a recruitment crisis as nurses are being lured overseas by higher wages, the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) has warned.

The RCN estimated that half of the UK’s foreign nurses are considering jobs in other countries where pay is much better.

“We have Filipino and Indian nurses who may have come into the UK via Saudi Arabia and the Emirates some time ago, who are now looking to move to other countries,” said Josie Irwin, head of employment relations at the RCN.

“They are tempted by offers from the US and Australia, who are recruiting staff aggressively.”

Working overseas is particularly attractive to junior nurses, where increased pay and the opportunity to travel make other countries more appealing. An experienced specialist nurse in the UK earning £25,000 could expect to earn an additional £10,000 plus accommodation in the US.  

More than 12,000 new nurses have come from overseas in the past year, compared with 20,000 UK entrants, and just under half of all nursing entrants over the past four years have come from overseas.

There has been a 23% increase in the nursing workforce since 1997.

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