More than 50,000 people sign petition to save nurses from deportation

People from around the world sign a petition to save overseas nurses from deportation from the UK

A nurse has said she has been ‘taken aback’ by the thousands of people worldwide who have signed her online petition to save overseas nurses from deportation.

Intensive care nurse Jacqui Berry has secured more than 54,000 signatures in support of lobbying the Home Office to change immigration rules to include nursing on the Shortage Occupation List, which would enable nurses who have trained outside the EU to stay in the UK.

From next year, workers from outside Europe, including nurses, will need to earn at least £35,000 – the salary of a senior nurse – to settle in the UK for longer than six years. The changes stem from amendments to settlement rules made in 2012.

The RCN estimates that up to 3,365 nurses currently working in the UK may have to leave the country from 2017 as a direct result of the earlier immigration changes, and 6,620 nurses will be affected by 2020 if levels of recruitment remain the same.

That figure could rise to over 29,000 if workforce pressures force a higher rate of international recruitment, according to the RCN.

Ms Berry said: ‘I have really been taken aback by how many people have signed the petition, and not just from the UK.

‘The NHS really does benefit from the hard work and goodwill of overseas staff. We cannot afford to lose 30,000 experienced staff who will face deportation just because they trained outside of the EU.’

Ms Berry, who is due to present the petition to the Home Office next month, also uploaded a video of herself to YouTube criticising health secretary Jeremy Hunt after she had completed a 14-and-a-half hour shift.

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘In the past it has been too easy for some employers to bring in workers from overseas rather than take the long-term decision to train our workforce here at home.

‘There are exemptions to this threshold for occupations where the UK has a shortage, but the independent Migration Advisory Committee, which took evidence from a number of NHS trusts and representative bodies from across the UK, recommended against adding nurses to the Shortage Occupation List.’

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