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COVID-19 effect could deter international nurses from coming to UK, says ICN

Perceptions of safety and financial impact may make UK less attractive to overseas nurses
Picture shows a woman wearing a face mask, with an airport departures board in the background

Perceptions of safety and financial impact may make UK less attractive to overseas nurses

International nurses could be deterred from working in the UK because of safety concerns stemming from the countrys response to COVID-19, a report says.

The briefing from the International Council of Nurses (ICN) urges high-income countries to become more self-sufficient and reflect on how the COVID-19 pandemic could change nurse supply and mobility.

A possible change in international nurses perceptions

Report author James Buchan, adjunct professor at University of Technology Sydney and a professor in the faculty of health and social sciences at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, said one factor that could influence international nurses was perceptions of safety related to COVID-19.

There may be

Perceptions of safety and financial impact may make UK less attractive to overseas nurses

Picture shows a woman wearing a face mask, with an airport departures board in the background
Picture: iStock

International nurses could be deterred from working in the UK because of safety concerns stemming from the country’s response to COVID-19, a report says.

The briefing from the International Council of Nurses (ICN) urges high-income countries to become more self-sufficient and reflect on how the COVID-19 pandemic could change nurse supply and mobility.

A possible change in international nurses’ perceptions

Report author James Buchan, adjunct professor at University of Technology Sydney and a professor in the faculty of health and social sciences at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, said one factor that could influence international nurses was perceptions of safety related to COVID-19.

‘There may be a change in internationally mobile nurses’ perceptions of the relative attractiveness (safety) of different destination countries,’ said Professor Buchan, who is also a columnist for Nursing Standard.

This would be shaped ‘by how effectively these countries responded to COVID-19, how well-funded and robust their post COVID-19 healthcare system is, and how attractive they are as a place to pursue a nursing career’.

Before the pandemic, the UK, along with the US, was one of the most common destinations for nurses within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with more than 100,000 foreign-trained nurses.

Report reiterates concerns raised by Filipino nurses in UK

The ICN report says the two countries are among those worst-affected by COVID-19 ‘in terms of mortality numbers, health system shock and, in the case of the UK, in broader financial impact’.

The report poses the question: ‘Does this negative media coverage mean that some countries may become relatively less attractive destinations, while others that did not experience the same level of COVID-19 damage on systems and funding, such as New Zealand, Australia and Germany, become potentially more attractive?’

The briefing highlights UK research showing 10,841 COVID-19 cases among registered nursing staff, with higher infections among those of Asian ethnicity (3.9%). A separate analysis of 119 NHS staff deaths found ‘disproportionate’ mortality rates among black, Asian and minority ethnic staff.

The ICN report also reiterates concerns raised by the UK’s Philippine Nurses Association about the reported infection and mortality rates among Filipino nurses in the UK.

‘Every country should use a self-sufficiency indicator’

ICN chief executive Howard Catton said countries relying on overseas nurse recruitment demonstrated the antithesis of self-sufficiency.

He said: ‘We are recommending that every country starts using a simple self-sufficiency indicator, based on the proportion of practising nurses who were born or trained overseas.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the new health and care visa would make it 'quicker, easier and cheaper' for overseas health workers to work in the NHS.


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COVID-19 and the International Supply of Nurses

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