The number of nurses coming to work in the UK from overseas rose by 40% last year, new figures show.
According to the Sunday Mirror, there were 3,197 nurses from the EU registered in the NHS between November 2010 and November 2011. This was compared with 2,256 during the previous 12 months.
NHS leaders say they are increasingly looking to recruit more nurses from Europe due to senior staff members retiring and the falling number of trainee nurses in the UK.
Of the 660,000 nurses working in the NHS, around 87,000 are from overseas. The majority of these hail from the Philippines, Australia, India and South Africa.
The trend has seen many hospitals running language classes to help their staff understand commonly used English phrases.
Royal College of Nursing general secretary Peter Carter told the Sunday Mirror: “We fully support nurses’ rights to work in other countries around the world. But patient safety must remain the top priority and staff must have the skills for the job.
“Britain should plan ahead and train enough staff to meet our needs.”
The newspaper did not reveal the source of its figures.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council, which looks after registrations of UK nurses, told Nursing Times that it had not supplied the paper with the figures. The RCN also said it was not the source.