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.
Being on the list would mean nursing was considered in short enough supply that posts could be “sensibly” filled by overseas recruits from outside Europe, making it easier for the NHS to find staff.
“The UK will be sending away nurses who have contributed to the NHS for six years”
As reported by Nursing Times, government advisors recommended against putting nursing on the list in February – advice believed to be contrary to the view of the Department of Health.
However, the lack of inclusion on the list has been given greater impetus by its connection to forthcoming immigration rules.
As it stands, new government legislation will force overseas workers from outside the EU to go back to their countries of origin if they are still earning less than £35,000 per year six years after arriving in the UK.
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But the profession would be exempt from the legislation if nursing was added to the Home Office list of occupations in short supply.
Jacqui Berry, an intensive care nurse at Medway Foundation NHS Trust, posted the critique after completing a 14-and-a-half hour shift as part of a widespread backlash against new proposals for seven-day working.
She subsequently set up the petition on nurse shortages and immigration via the Care2 online campaigning network to support of colleagues from overseas.
It has so far gathered over 54,000 signatures. Ms Berry urged more people to sign it and said she planned to deliver the petition to the Home Office within the next few weeks.
She said: “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.
“My migrant colleagues make an enormous contribution but now those we have relied on for years face having to leave, which is unfair,” she said. “The government can still avoid this chaos.”