Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Managers lobby Home Office over nurse immigration rules

  • 6 Comments

Nurses recruited from outside the European Union are having their visa applications to work in the NHS rejected and new immigration rules are prompting some NHS nurses to resign, it has been revealed.

NHS Employers has written to the Home Office expressing concerns over changes to immigration rules which will mean non-EU nurses earning less than £35,000 a year, and who have been in the UK for six years, having to leave the country from April next year.

“It is essential that processes to recruit nurses from overseas work effectively and responsively when we need them”

Danny Mortimer

The letter was sent to immigration minister James Brokenshire and follows the decision by the Migration Advisory Committee in February not to add nursing to the shortage occupation list, according to Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal.

Not being on the list would mean non-EU nurses were part of the general pool of non-EU workforce visa applicants hoping to receive one of the 20,700 visas available each year.

One clinical director at a London NHS hospital said nurses were already leaving their jobs to work in the private sector, in order to earn more than £35,000 and prevent deportation.

They said: “This is a big risk for us. In London we rely on nurses on work permits to keep our service running. We find it difficult to recruit and retain nurses due to the high cost of living in London. We have already lost two nurses to the private sector to avoid the £35,000 limit.

“It will be a complete disaster if the government allows this to go through. Even the rumour of it is going to make our nurses leave out of fear.”

“In the past it has been too easy for some employers to bring in workers from overseas rather than to take the long term decision to train our workforce here at home”

Home Office

NHS Employers and individual trusts have told the Department of Health and the Home Office that unless there is a rethink over the immigration rules and the shortage occupation list, the NHS will be unable to fill vacant nursing posts.

The warning from employers follows concerns raised in recent months by the Royal College of Nursing.

As reported last month, 83% of trusts have failed to meet their own planned nurse staffing levels. There has also been a large increase in the number of nurses recruited from overseas by trusts due to a shortage of applicants in England.

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said: “While employers continue to recruit nurses from the EU, they are telling us that visa applications for non-EU nurses are being rejected because of controls on numbers. I have made these concerns known to colleagues at the DH and the Home Office.”

He added: “We know that many NHS organisations are facing recruitment challenges and that overseas recruitment can provide a medium term solution whilst other plans, particularly the training of new nurses come to fruition.

“Employers will have tried all other options before embarking on overseas recruitment, and it is essential that processes to recruit nurses from overseas work effectively and responsively when we need them,” stated Mr Mortimer.

Danny Mortimer

Danny Mortimer

A trust chief executive in the Midlands said the immigration policy “made no sense” given the NHS was struggling to recruit sufficient numbers.

They said: “We are very concerned with the approach that is being taken. The whole NHS has enormous vacancies and we face losing experienced staff as well. The government needs to reconsider.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said it would not comment on private correspondence and reiterated the immigration rules.

She said: “In the past it has been too easy for some employers to bring in workers from overseas rather than to take the long term decision to train our workforce here at home.

“There are exemptions to this threshold for occupations where the UK has a shortage, but the independent Migration Advisory Committee, which took evidence from a number of NHS trusts and representative bodies from across the UK, recommended against adding nurses to the shortage occupation list,” she said.

“We will continue to monitor [non-EU visa] take-up, but have no plans to change the limit,” she added.

Meanwhile, an online petition set up by a nurse to put pressure on the Home Office to add nursing to its list of shortage occupations has been signed by over 50,000 people.

  • 6 Comments

Readers' comments (6)

  • I hope everybody has signed Jacqui Berry's petition!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The govt. is just saying pay your workers better for retention,thereby improving the economy.Nursing posts should be covered effectively.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The govt. is just saying pay your workers better for retention,thereby improving the economy.Nursing posts should be covered effectively.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I remember in 1995, I was rejected by the occupational health department of a hospital to work as a midwife, because I was 'unfit to work'. I was then, and still am, a 'large lady' and have worked in the private sector ever since with nil sickness on my record. From that day onwards, I was ashamed of the ridiculous, discriminatory bureaucratic buffoons who run the British NHS. We reap what we sow. I am a British born, British trained nurse and midwife. Hell mend them, I say.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree 100% with the Government....nurses are poorly paid. The NHS should increase their salary if they want to retain to nurses

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I work in a nursing home and there have been shortages of nurses such that most nurses are over stretched with work and at the end of a shift you don't know if another nurse is going to come and take over from you. This is happening regularly. The government needs to rethink on this issue of nurse shortages, its real.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs