Nurses will be added to the government’s shortage occupation list on an interim basis. This means that nurses from outside the EEA that apply to work in the UK will have their applications for nursing posts prioritised. The independent Migration Advisory Committee will review the change and present further evidence to the government by February 2016.
The move is designed to ease pressure on the NHS at a time when the government is introducing tough new controls on costly agency spending. It will help the NHS improve continuity of care for patients, invest in the frontline and maintain safe staffing levels.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:
Safe staffing across all our hospitals and care homes is a crucial priority. The temporary changes announced today will ensure the NHS has the nurses it needs to deliver the highest standards of care without having to rely on rip-off staffing agencies that cost the taxpayer billions of pounds a year.
We are also recruiting more home-grown nurses than ever to deliver a truly seven day NHS. There are already more than 8,000 additional nurses on our wards since 2010 and we are investing in our future workforce with a record 50,000 nurses currently in training.
The government is recruiting more home-grown nurses by significantly increasing training places, promoting return to practice programmes and improving retention of existing staff.
Health Education England has already increased nurse training places by 14% over the last 2 years and is forecasting that more than 23,000 additional nurses will be in place by 2019. A campaign is also being run to get experienced nurses who’ve left the profession back to work to co-ordinate plans across the health and care sector to improve the retention of nurses.
See Home Office letter and statement from the Migration Advisory Service on nurse shortages