Overseas nurses barred from working in the UK last year

NHS Trusts were denied the opportunity to employ nurses from outside of the EU despite the huge demand for nurses within the UK. Over the last year 2,341 applications for a certificate of sponsorship, required to employ nurses from outside of the EU, have been refused.

In November last year the government responded to calls for change within the profession to tackle nurse staffing shortages by temporarily placing nursing on the ‘shortage occupation list’. This meant that nurses employed from outside of the EU would temporarily be fast tracked and prioritised, potentially avoiding refusals on the scale experienced last year.

Janet Davies, General Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing has voiced concerns about the temporary relief offered to the employment of nurses:-

“The number one priority for all healthcare providers is making sure they have enough staff to deliver safe care to patients,”

“These figures show that when nursing is not on the list many trusts are unable to recruit enough nurses, which could have an impact on patient care.”

“There is still a workforce crisis in the NHS and until enough nurses are trained the UK health organisations still need to be able to recruit nurses from overseas. With the cap on agency spending now in effect this is more urgent than ever.”

A decision will be made next month as to whether to extend the temporary relief offered to nurses applying for roles from outside the EU. The sector will welcome increased protection from arbitrary monthly limits on applications in light of the importance to ensure safe levels of staffing within healthcare settings at all times.

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