More than 60% of nurses recruited in 2016 will come from outside Europe, survey shows

NHS Employers surveyed 147 NHS provider trusts on nurse supply and demand issues 

More than 60% of new nurse appointments at NHS provider trusts in the next year will come from non-European Economic Area (EEA) countries, a survey shows. 

The survey of trusts by NHS Employers has emphasised the importance of nurse recruitment from outside the UK and Europe just as a national committee considers whether easing visa restrictions for such nurses should continue. 

Home secretary Theresa May decided last October to put nursing on the shortage occupation list, which means that nurses from outside the EEA are prioritised when they apply for certificates of sponsorship to work in the UK. 

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has been gathering evidence on whether nursing should remain on the list and has until February 15 to make its recommendations 

To inform its response, NHS Employers surveyed 147 NHS provider trusts, including hospital, community and mental health trusts. It found that 56% of the trusts are considering whether to recruit from outside the UK over the next 12 months. 

The survey reveals, however, that 68% of recruitment campaigns targeted at the EEA have been unsuccessful.

Non-EEA countries, such as the Philippines and India, feature predominantly in overseas recruitment plans, NHS Employers’ report on the survey shows. 

A total of 3,273 non-EEA candidates have been offered NHS employment, and are passing through the recruitment and professional registration process. 

It is predicted that 30% of them will pass the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s computer-based test and will travel to the UK by the end of March. A further 50% are expected to do so from April onwards.

Italy, Spain and Portugal were the most targeted countries for recruitment in the past year, and 63% of trusts recruited from outside the UK over this period. 

More than nine in ten (93%) trusts reported supply shortages of registered nurses, while 78% of all hard-to-fill vacancies are in adult nursing. 

Just over a quarter (27%) of trusts use recruitment and retention premiums to manage supply challenges. 

In its response to MAC, NHS Employers recommended that adult nurses should remain on the shortage occupation list.

It said there is evidence of shortages in adult, children’s, mental health and learning disability nursing, but added that supply from non-EEA countries of the latter three categories of nurses is limited. 

Read the survey report here.   


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