LONDON (TIP): Britain’s National Health Service has made a desperate bid to keep Indian nurses from leaving UK, due to stringent new immigration rules.
The chief of 10 leading NHS trusts have sent an emergency letter to the home minister and the immigration minister in David Cameron’s cabinet, warning that new immigration rules are preventing them from getting enough nurses on wards in time for winter.
Under new immigration rules in UK, up to 3,365 nurses currently working in the Britain, majority being Indian, may have to leave the country soon.
The letter says that “non-EU nurses are invaluable to the NHS”. It also calls on the ministers to put nursing on the shortage occupation list for the next two years.
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers said “Even with government commitment to additional training places for nurses and a focus on retention, we need to employ staff from outside the EU to meet current demand for staff. Due to the high demand for immigration certificates in June and July, for example, all of the applications for nurses were rejected”. “Whilst there was some improvement in August, with 200 certificates being issued there remains significant numbers of outstanding applications for entry to the UK to take up nursing posts in our hospitals. If trusts are unable to employ these nurses it will impact on their ability to meet safe staffing levels and support the effective provision of services particularly in the winter months,” he added.
Royal College of Nursing have said that if levels of recruitment stay the same, by 2020, 6,620 nurses will be impacted, majority of which will be from India.
According to Mortimer “These are nurses who’ve been recruited and could start work in the NHS shortly -but we can’t get them into the country. They are trained, registered nurses recruited from outside the EU – most typically from India. We are asking home minister Theresa May to relieve the pressure on already stretched services as we head into the winter months”.
According to the NHS, the use of salary as the single metric for determining skill, priority and value is placing the NHS at a disadvantage when being assessed against applications from other industries.
The new immigration rules in UK say that a nurse can stay in the UK only if she or he earns a minimum of£35,000 a year – which is the salary of a senior nurse. This is a position that the majority of nurses would not reach within six years.
What experts find silly is that the NHS has already spent over £20 million recruiting the 3,365 nurses already working in the UK who may have to return home because they are unlikely to meet the income threshold.
If recruitment from outside Europe were to continue, by 2020 employers may have invested nearly £180 million on recruiting nurses who may have to leave the UK after six years.
In 2012, the European Commission estimated that there would be of a shortfall of nearly 600,000 nurses in the EU by 2020. With traditional destinations for UK nurse migration such as Australia also predicting a dramatic increase in their own nurse shortfalls, with up to 109,000 nursing vacancies predicted by 2025 (nearly 27% of the current national workforce), those sent back from UK will then go to these countries.