NHS clamps down on recruiting nurses from abroad

The NHS should no longer recruit junior nurses from abroad, the government has said.

The change applies to nursing posts graded at Agenda for Change bands five and six – which means they have experience ranging from a few months to around one a half years.

The Department of Health said the expanded training programmes and better conditions mean the supply of nurses is now healthy, and the manpower shortage has eased.

However, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) attacked the move, calling it “short-termism in the worst possible sense”.

It accused the government of making international nurses a scapegoat for the current financial crisis in the NHS, which has seen thousands of posts cut in recent months.

The decision to remove general nurses from the shortage occupation list means employers will need to advertise any vacancies first and only if they are unable to fill the post can they turn to international recruitment.

Health minister Lord Warner said the government had invested heavily in nurse training and recruitment policies and there were now 82,000 more nurses working in the NHS than when Labour came to power in 1997.

“Large-scale international nurse recruitment across the NHS was only ever intended to be a short-term measure. The aim of the NHS has always been to look towards home-grown staff in the first instance and have a diverse workforce that reflects local communities,” he said.

Dr Beverly Malone, RCN general secretary, told BBC News Online: “If this proposal goes ahead I guarantee that the effects will be far-reaching and immediate.

“More than 150,000 nurses are due to retire in the next five to 10 years and we will not replace them all with home-grown nurses alone.”



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