UK to kick out 30 000 overseas nurses
UNITED KINGDOM – Up to 30,000 overseas nurses face the axe under barmy Tory immigration laws that will spark an NHS staffing crisis.
Non-EU staff on less than £35,000 after six years here are to be kicked out. The Royal College of Nursing said: “This will cause NHS chaos.”
Already buckling under the pressure of savage Tory cuts, the NHS faces further turmoil with the axing of 30,000 foreign nurses.
But critics warn it will leave hospitals with a critical shortage of nurses at a time when more and more will be needed to cope with an aging population and the devastating effects of social care cuts.
And it could also mean up to £180million spent recruiting foreigners only to kick them out six years later will be wasted.
The Royal College of Nursing warned the move would put patient lives in danger and called on the Government to exempt nurses from the draconian new law.
Chief executive Dr Peter Carter said: “The immigration rules for health care workers will cause chaos for the NHS and other care services.
“At a time when demand is increasing, the UK is perversely making it harder to employ staff from overseas. Due to cuts to nurse training places, trusts are being forced into relying on overseas and temporary staff, just to provide safe levels. A cap on agency spending will make one of these options more difficult, and these immigration rules will limit the other. The UK will be sending away nurses who have contributed to the NHS for six years.
“Losing their skills and knowledge and then having to start the cycle again and recruit to replace them is completely illogical. The NHS has spent millions hiring nurses from overseas to provide safe staffing levels. These rules will mean money has been thrown down the drain. Trusts are being asked to provide safe staffing with both hands tied behind their backs.
“Without a change to these immigration rules the NHS will continue to pay millions to temporarily rent nurses from overseas.
“The only way for the UK to regain control over its own health service workforce is by training more nurses.”
Under previous immigration rules, there was no income threshold or time limit. The RCN estimates 90% of nurses hired by the NHS from outside Europe will not have hit £35,000 within six years. The cut-off date for the new rules was set at 2011, meaning the first batch of nurses earning less will be sent home in 2017.
It costs £6,000 to recruit a nurse from outside Europe. The RCN, which began its annual conference in Bournemouth yesterday, said it is not certain how many are currently working in Britain. But it warned that if recruitment continues to rise, the number of those hit by the immigration law could reach 29,755. And it will have cost the NHS £180million.
A Home Office spokesman said: “There are exemptions to the £35,000 threshold for occupations where the UK has a shortage. But the independent Migration Advisory Committee recommended against adding nurses to the list after taking evidence from groups including the Royal College of Nursing. Employers have had since 2011 to prepare for this.”
But Dr Carter sa id: “The RCN submitted detailed and unambiguous evidence. This was not heeded, despite the evidence of a serious shortage of nurses. We repeat our call to add nursing to the list.” Daily Mirror (UK)