Royal College of Nursing has criticised the Government’s policy of recruiting
foreign staff to tackle NHS nursing shortages.
The RCN’s annual congress in Harrogate also highlighted the practice in the
private sector of poaching nurses from developing countries that are also
experiencing staff shortages. It has called for binding guidelines to stop the
The number of foreign nurses applying to join the UK professional register
rose by more than 70 per cent last year to 29,119.
Gary Theobald, HR director for the Basildon and Thurrock General Hospitals
NHS Trust, said his organisation recruits from the Philippines, where there is
a surplus of nurses.
"It is a short-term measure. We have long-term plans in place to help
us grow our own, but they are not there at the moment and we do need to recruit
"We don’t see it in such emotive terms as poaching. It is part of the
economic strategy of the Philippines that they train more staff than they need,
knowing they will come over here and send money back. They also provide a fresh
perspective. We can learn from them and, at the same time, they can learn from
Theobald said his trust has introduced nurse cadet and clinical support
worker schemes, which would enable staff to train to qualify as nurses.