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Lead nurses warn that immigration rules will create staff shortages

RCN's Executive Nurse Network claim independent healthcare providers will have to fork out ‘millions of pounds’ extra in hiring temporary staff to make up nursing shortages

Directors of nursing are warning the government that its policy of not allowing some foreign nurses to work if they earn less than 35,000 will create serious staffing shortages.

The immigration rules apply to certain general workers which include nurses from non-European Economic Area countries whose salaries are below this threshold after five years in the UK.

It means that many staff from countries such as the Philippines and India that have supplied thousands of nurses to the UK will not be allowed to settle here.

The RCNs Executive Nurse Network, which represents senior nurses, argues that the NHS, care homes and independent healthcare providers will have to fork out millions of pounds extra in hiring temporary staff to make up nursing shortages.

The regulations were brought in earlier this year, but are backdated to April 2011.

Executive Nurse Network chair

Directors of nursing are warning the government that its policy of not allowing some foreign nurses to work if they earn less than £35,000 will create serious staffing shortages.

The immigration rules apply to certain ‘general’ workers – which include nurses – from non-European Economic Area countries whose salaries are below this threshold after five years in the UK.

It means that many staff from countries such as the Philippines and India – that have supplied thousands of nurses to the UK – will not be allowed to settle here.

The RCN’s Executive Nurse Network, which represents senior nurses, argues that the NHS, care homes and independent healthcare providers will have to fork out ‘millions of pounds’ extra in hiring temporary staff to make up nursing shortages.

The regulations were brought in earlier this year, but are backdated to April 2011.

Executive Nurse Network chair Irene Gray said that directors of nursing across the UK are concerned. ‘The majority of nurses will never make the £35,000 limit. The rule will mean that the NHS, the independent sector and care homes will be even more reliant on agency staff. We have some excellent nurses from overseas working here, so this change has significant potential to destabilise the care home sector, which will affect the whole care pathway in the NHS.’

Clive Banzon, a Philippino working as a cardiac nurse at Watford General Hospital faces leaving the UK in two years because his salary is currently £30,000. He said: ‘This is an unfair rule. We work hard and benefit by being here, but we bring a lot to health care.’

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